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Every Second Counts When A Stroke Strikes

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RALEIGH — The American Heart Association needs your help to save stroke patients.

It has kicked off "Operation Stroke" -- a campaign to increase public awareness of stroke warning signs and to get patients the care they need quickly.

Many signs of a stroke are easily recognizable. Some obvious symptoms are:

  • Sudden numbness or weakness of the face, arm or leg, especially on one side of the body
  • Sudden confusion, trouble speaking or understanding
  • Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination
  • Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes
  • Sudden severe headache with no known cause
  • What do you do when you spot notice the symptoms of a stroke? Quick thinking makes a big difference.

    When a stroke strikes, every second counts. Calling 911 and getting EMS rolling immediately is key.

    Getting to a hospital quickly is crucial if you want to benefit from TPA, a clot-busting drug that can reduce a stroke's devastating effects.

    Three hours is all the time you have to benefit from these clot-busters. That is the time from when the first symptom hits to when you have to be at the hospital. Unfortunately, time runs out for most people.

    About three percent of patients who could benefit from TPA actually get to the hospital in time. The AHA knows that number needs to improve, but does not expect the person having the stroke to make that call.

    As an emergency department nurse, Barbara Overby has treated hundreds of stroke patients. When she had a stroke in her Chapel Hill home four years ago, she fought going to the hospital.

    A friend talked her into going, and Overby credits her persistence for getting her the help she needed.

    Today, Overby has recovered and is using her life-changing experience to spread the word about the importance of early stroke detection.

    "Call 911 and get them to the hospital as soon as possible, " she says.

    Once you arrive at the hospital, do not be afraid to ask if TPA is a possibility.

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