Stockbridge, Ga. (May 6, 2014) – Lee Evans and his wife Pamela were sightseeing in Savannah, Ga. when he experienced an unusual feeling of numbness on the left side of his mouth. At first, the pair dismissed the sensation and went on with their vacation. When Evans woke up at home the next day, he noticed the entire left side of his body was paralyzed.
“The only thing I could do was start calling on Jesus,” said Evans, who was rushed to Piedmont Henry Hospital for stroke care. “I was praying while they did all the tests. I said, ‘I rebuke this stroke in the name of Jesus.’”
Evans had been diagnosed with an ischemic stroke, or a stroke caused by an obstruction within a blood vessel that supplies blood to the brain. Within minutes of his arrival, doctors treated Evans with a medicine call tPA (tissue plasminogen activator) which dissolves the clot in the brain.
“There is a limited window of time a stroke patient can receive tPA,” said Susan Haines, stroke coordinator at Piedmont Henry. “We urge anyone who experiences the first signs of a stroke to call 9-1-1 immediately so they can begin treatment within the next 60 minutes, what we call the ‘golden hour.’”
Signs of stroke include sudden numbness or weakness of the face – like Evans experienced – as well as sudden numbness or weakness of an arm or leg. Sudden confusion, trouble speaking or understanding and trouble seeing in one or both eyes also are warning signs of a stroke. People also should look out for sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination and a sudden, severe headache.
“Believe it or not, the next day my mouth started to straighten out and my strength started to come back,” said Evans. “Every time these things happen, God brings me out of it and I am always stronger.”
Henry County’s stroke mortality rate is high, annually averaging about 39 deaths per every 100,000 people, according to the National Center for Health Statistics’ Underlying Causes of Death report for 2006 through 2010. Additionally, the state of Georgia’s stroke death rate is 16 percent higher than the national average.
Stroke, also referred to as a “brain attack,” occurs when a blood vessel breaks or a blood clot blocks an artery, interrupting blood supply to the brain. Strokes can happen to anyone, regardless of age, race or gender.
“The good news is: approximately 80 percent of strokes are preventable with proper treatment when warning signs are observed,” said Richard Stappenback M.D., lead neurologist for Piedmont Henry’s stroke program. “The most common signs of a stroke include sudden difficulty seeing, walking or talking; weakness on one side of the body; and a sudden, severe headache with no known cause.”
The key to optimal recovery of a stroke is to act F.A.S.T.:
• Face – look for an uneven smile
• Arm – check if one arm is weak
• Speech – listen for slurred speech
• Time – call 911 right away
To learn more about stroke prevention and care, visit piedmont.org.