Tag Archives: stroke symptoms

Father of Five Survives Stroke

Christopher Ford woke that day in August with a bit of a headache. But it was nothing that would stop the 34-year-old truck driver and father of five from hauling a load from Mullins to Columbia.

As the miles passed, the headache became worse. Chris thought he should take an aspirin. Then, the pain suddenly escalated.

“I was probably 10 minutes from the loading dock, and from out of nowhere it felt like someone took a sledge hammer and hit me on the back of the head,” he said. “It felt like my head exploded for a minute, and I started feeling lightheaded and dizzy.”

Christopher Ford

Although still in pain, the intensity subsided and Chris finished his trip. But when he stepped out of his truck, he noticed the left side of his shirt was soaked — with his own saliva.

“I couldn’t figure out how that happened. I remember thinking, ‘Why am I drooling?”’

A co-worker struck up a conversation on the loading dock, but Chris couldn’t form the simple words to respond.

“I’d never had anything like this happen to me,” he said. “But I thought, ‘It’ll go away, just keep working.’” Unloading complete, he stumbled briefly on his way back to his truck cab to finally take an aspirin. That’s when he noticed two missed calls from his wife Renee on his phone.

“I called her back, and she said, ‘Chris, were you asleep or something? You sound funny.’ I told her ‘No,’ but couldn’t make her understand me. None of the words sounded right. So I told her I couldn’t talk and hung up.”

Chris knew something was really wrong and so did his wife. He had been diagnosed with elevated blood pressure just a year before. He recently left a high-stress job behind, but poor eating habits and little regular exercise contributed to his risk.

Renee called Chris back, this time with a colleague by her side to listen to him, too. “I heard her co-worker at the school tell Renee, ‘I think your husband is having a stroke.’”

“I said, that’s impossible. Not me, I’m 34. I was athletic in school. I can’t be having a stroke.”

But a stroke is exactly what Chris experienced. Nearly nine out of 10 strokes are caused by a blood clot that blocks an artery supplying blood to the brain. Chris experienced some of the most 8common warning signs of stroke; sudden weakness of the face, causing excessive drooling; trouble speaking; dizziness; trouble walking; and that sudden, severe headache.

Renee urged Chris to call an ambulance, but when he hesitated, she took matters into her own hands. Emergency medical help was there within minutes to take Chris to Lexington Medical Center.

At Lexington Medical Center, a quick review of Chris’ CT scan and angiogram revealed a large blockage in his right cerebral artery, which nourishes the majority of the right brain. /a>, of Lexington Radiology Associates, a Lexington Medical Center physician practice, knew he had to act fast.

“Without blood flow, the neural damage to the brain was progressing rapidly,” he said. “Expedited treatment was critical.”

Dr. McCarty confirmed the large blood clot with an arteriogram and removed it successfully, restoring blood flow to the brain.

Chris was fortunate. Fast action on the part of his wife, emergency medical technicians and the Lexington Medical Center staff made it possible to quickly dissolve and clear the clot. Chris was home after only three days in the hospital, with no symptoms or long-term effects from the stroke.

Chris has completely changed his lifestyle choices to guard against a future occurrence. He limits salt intake, no longer drinks soda, and has also eliminated alcohol from his diet. He manages stress and is building his muscle mass with gym workouts four to five times a week. And he takes a baby aspirin every day, as recommended by his doctor.

“I’m keeping my blood pressure at a healthy level — I have to make sure nothing happens again to scare me or my family,” he said. “It dawned on me, finally, that you’re never too young to have a stroke, especially if you’re not taking care of yourself.”

To learn more about stroke care at Lexington Medical Center, visit LexMed.com/Stroke.

Spot the Signs of Stroke

Which of the following is a sign of stroke?
Facial drooping.
Arm weakness.
Slurred speech.
The answer? All of the above. And if you see someone with the symptoms of a stroke, it’s important to act quickly.

A stroke occurs when a blood vessel that carries oxygen and nutrients to the brain is either blocked by a clot or bursts. When that happens, part of the brain can’t get the oxygen it needs and starts to die. If it lasts for a long time, there can be permanent damage.

Risk factors for stroke include high blood pressure, high cholesterol, obesity, diabetes, smoking, excessive alcohol use and atrial fibrillation, a type of irregular heartbeat.

South Carolina has a high rate of stroke. In fact, it’s the fourth leading cause of death in the state. Statistics show that more than 20,000 people suffer a stroke in South Carolina each year, and more than 2,500 people die from a stroke.

“South Carolina is in what’s known as the ‘Stroke Belt’,” said Douglas Sinclair, DO, a neurologist with Southeastern Neurology and Memory Clinic, a Lexington Medical Center physician practice. “Our state has a bad combination of factors including smoking, poor diet, and not seeking routine medical care that makes us have a higher prevalence of stroke than the rest of the country. Here in the South, we deep fry pickles.”

When it comes to stroke, experts say to think “F-A-S-T” to look for symptoms and respond.
F: Facial drooping
A: Arm weakness
S: Slurred speech
T: Time to call 9-1-1

A stroke is a medical emergency that requires immediate care. If someone shows stroke symptoms, call 9-1-1 and get them to a hospital right away. Also note the last time the person did not have any stroke symptoms. Doctors may treat the patient with a drug called tPA that busts clots. If given in the first three hours after the start of stroke symptoms, tPA has been shown to significantly reduce the effects of stroke and lessen the chance of permanent disability.

Douglas Sinclair, DO

“Stroke patients often do not realize they’ve had a stroke and resist the idea of going to the Emergency department,” Dr. Sinclair said. “Unlike heart attacks, the typical stroke causes no pain and patients often want to go to bed or take a nap. If you think you or a loved one is having a stroke, call 9-1-1.”

Ways to lower stroke risk include quitting smoking, talking to your doctor about treating high blood pressure or high cholesterol, and following a healthy diet such as the DASH or Mediterranean diet.

A stroke can happen at any age. While most cases of stroke are in patients older than 65, a third of all strokes in the United States occur in patients younger than that. Stroke can also run in families.

Lexington Medical Center is a certified Primary Stroke Center, which recognizes that the hospital follows the best practices for stroke care. It has also received a “Gold Plus” Quality Achievement Award for stroke care from the American Heart Association and American Stroke Association’s Get with the Guidelines Stroke program and qualified for the Target: Stroke Honor Roll.

For more information about stroke care at Lexington Medical Center, visit LexMed.com/Stroke.

A Stroke at Age 25

It was March 24, 2014 and Savannah Tapler was on her way to work, excited to get the day going. It was her 25th birthday, but before the day was out, she would find herself facing the hardest test of her young life.

As Savannah arrived to work that morning at Lexington Medical Center — she’s a planning analyst — she stumbled getting out of her car. She was limping but felt no pain. As Savannah tried to walk toward her office, she could go no farther and called out for help. Co-workers rushed to her and took her to the Emergency department.

Savannah learned she suffered a burst blood vessel in her brain, resulting in a stroke. “When the doctor told me he thought I was having a stroke, I just couldn’t believe it,” she said. “Stroke is not something you associate with someone my age. I was dumbfounded.”

Savannah had always watched her diet and worked out on a regular basis. Now the doctor was telling her she may walk again but likely not run.

Once she had recovered enough to be released from Lexington Medical Center, Savannah went directly to a rehabilitation hospital. “I had one job to do and that was to get back to my old self,” she recalled.

Savannah had at least three hours of therapy every day and usually stayed longer to put in extra effort. By the time she was released from the rehabilitation center, she was able to take a few steps without holding on to anything for support. Her rehabilitation continued through outpatient therapy. She consistently worked on her recovery, taking exercise bands home and playing games such as picking up marbles with her toes. Her husband Aidan also learned some of the exercises so that he could help at home.

Today, Savannah is completely recovered. “I had a bit of lingering shaking in my leg for a while,” she said. “But that has almost completely disappeared.”
And now she has a bundle of joy that keeps her on the go as she and Aidan welcomed their son Beckett in the fall of 2015.

While Savannah’s stroke may not have been preventable — doctors now say she suffered from a ‘spontaneous intracranial hemorrhage’ that may have been the result of a weakened blood vessel since birth – she understands the significance of seeking help for stroke as quickly as possible. “I believe that getting to a doctor as quickly as I did probably saved my life.”

 

Lexington Medical Center is a Primary Stroke Center. The hospital has also received a Gold Plus award from the American Heart Association and American Stroke Association. Both honors recognize Lexington Medical Center’s commitment to and success in stroke care.