According to the American Stroke Association many people having a heart attack or a stroke wait for more than two hours before getting help. The result is that they do not get the right lifesaving treatment in time. Why would someone wait to get the medical help they need? Often the answer is that they would be embarrassed to go in for a “false alarm”. Fear of embarrassment can have a deadly result. Waiting is the worst thing that you can do when it comes to a stroke. First responders are trained to start treatment on the way to the hospital. They also will be in contact with the doctors in the ER to make sure that the stroke patient receives immediate treatment when they arrive.
In our recent training on stroke recognition and care for caregivers at Companion Care, Care Manager Martyne Backman shared her personal experience with strokes. Companion Care hosts monthly training for its caregivers on subjects ranging from dementia communication to senior nutrition. Martyne related how fortunate she was to have already been in a hospital when she had her strokes several years ago. “Hospitals are absolutely the best place to have stroke,” she learned. Because she received treatment immediately, she was able to make a very good recovery despite temporary setbacks such as losing her ability to speak or move her right hand.
In addition to potential embarrassment, some are so afraid of having a stroke or heart attack that they convince themselves that it’s not happening. However, this is not necessarily the case. Valuable time has been lost and faster response would have assured a better outcome.
How to recognize the signs of a stroke?
- Face Drooping – is one side of the face numb or drooping? Is your smile uneven when you look into a mirror?
- Arm Weakness – is one arm weak or numb? When you raise both of your arms, does one drift downward?
- Speech Slurred – can you speak clearly or are you hard to understand? Repeat a simple sentence such as “The sky is blue”. Can you be understood?
- Sudden trouble seeing through one or both eyes
- Sudden dizziness and loss of balance or trouble walking
- Sudden severe headache possibly accompanied by nausea
If you show any of the above symptoms, even if they go away, call 911 and get to the hospital immediately. Make note of the time when the first symptoms appeared so you can advise medical personnel.
You may save your life by responding quickly to the warning signs of a stroke or heart attack and getting help immediately. There are so many stories from friends or family who have told me: I should have let them call 911 instead of talking them out of it.
For more information, call us at 505-293-5858