I may be young, but in my life so far I have realized something important to everyone: strokes don’t discriminate. Men and women, young and old are all subject to the dangers of a stroke. What most don’t realize is that 60 minutes can be the difference between life and death for someone who suffers from one. Learning the symptoms of a stroke can increase you or a loved one’s chance of surviving a stroke with little or no disability by at least 30 percent. This is something near and dear to my heart since I have close family that have both survived and passed away due to strokes.
My grandmother was eating dinner one night at her house when she suddenly slumped over and was unresponsive to my grandfather. He suspected that she might have had a stroke and took immediate action to help her. She was taken by ambulance to the hospital and they immediately began working to stop the stroke and other complications from it. At the age of 62, my grandmother was far from young and had been a smoker for years. These factors may have contributed to the onset of her stroke, but my grandfather’s quick action is what ultimately saved her life. Despite complications from a brain aneurysm that occurred simultaneously, my grandmother is still alive and well today at the age of 79 with no lasting disabilities.
My grandmother’s stroke happened in 1996 before many of the modern stroke treatments had been utilized. Last year, my father was walking to his living room when he collapsed on the floor. My stepmother was there and immediately asked him what was wrong. He was unable to speak very well, the left side of his face drooping and unresponsive. He was unable to stand or move on his own due to complete loss of feeling in the left side of his body. My stepmother did not know at the time, but these are some of the key symptoms of a stroke. She moved my father to a bed until she could determine what should be done for him. He began to speak after a few minutes, saying he wanted to wait to go to the hospital. This delay eventually cost him his life. He was 54 at the time and in relatively good health despite having smoked for many years. Upon admittance into the hospital, three hours after the onset of the stroke, he was put into the care of a specialized stroke unit. Despite everything that was done for him, his brain continued to swell and eventually the swelling extended to his spinal cord causing his body to shut down. Sadly, my dad passed away two days after having his stroke.
My stories will hopefully bring awareness to more people about the seriousness of a stroke. Any of the symptoms should not be ignored and be seen to at once. If you or a loved one experiences any of the following, seek emergency aid immediately:
- Trouble walking
- Trouble speaking
- Loss of movement on one side of the body
- Trouble seeing
- Sudden or severe headache with no cause
- Confusion or disorientation
According to the Mayo Clinic, these are all signs that a stroke may be occurring. If you can reach a hospital within 60 minutes of the onset, a drug known as tissue plasminogen activator, or tPA, may be given to stop the stroke before the swelling caused by it can do lasting damage to the brain. As long as this drug is administered within 3 hours of the stroke, the clot in the brain can be dissolved and may save the victim’s life.
I hope this sheds some light for a few of you. Strokes can happen to anyone at any time and should be treated every bit as seriously as heart attacks. Knowing the signs and acting fast can save you or a loved one from suffering as my family did. Learn the signs and remember that 60 minutes can be what saves your life.