Signs of stroke and the importance of acting fast

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Stroke is primarily a problem with the blood vessels in the brain. Either they become blocked and restrict blood flow to certain areas or they can break, causing bleeding inside the brain. Depending on where in the brain the blockage or bleeding is, individuals may present with varying symptoms. Some stroke symptoms include the sudden onset of weakness in your arms or legs, blurry vision, dizziness, staggering gate/difficulty balancing and speech difficulty. While individual symptoms may vary, one of my stroke patients, James Pinnix, experienced slurred speech, lost his balance and lost his vision on the right side.

Since symptoms can vary depending on the location of the blockage, sometimes the signs of stroke can go unnoticed.

As many people know, time is of the essence in the incidence of stroke. Fortunately for James, his coworker recognized these signs and called for help right away. When a person experiences a stroke, the brain goes into shock, then starts dying after six to 20 minutes. Acting fast is important because the longer that blood flow is blocked, the more damage the brain experiences. James was lucky because he made it to the hospital within an hour of experiencing a stroke. In most cases, patients have the best chance of recovery if they are treated within six to eight hours, but there have been some who recovered after an artery had been blocked for fifteen hours.

At Cone Health, we have a dedicated stroke team. When a stroke patient reaches the hospital, the Stroke Center team evaluates the nature of the stroke to determine the best course of treatment. We often use a clot-busting medication in conjunction with a procedure to remove the clot if necessary. For James, I used a newly approved clot-removal device and a procedure that included threading the device up through James’ groin using the artery all the way into his brain. Once the device is in place, it is opened, allowing blood to go past the clot and delivering oxygen to the brain cells. The device then closes down to capture the clot, allowing it to be removed. The sooner this procedure is performed, the better the outcome, as 80-85 percent of procedures successfully removing the blockage and restoring blood flow to the brain.

If you or someone else is experiencing symptoms of a stroke, call 911 immediately. Cone Health is partnered with local emergency transport services to get patients to designated Stroke Center on Moses Cone Hospital campus.

Spokesperson Background:

Dr. Tony Deveshwar is an interventional neuroradiologist at the Cone Health Stroke Center and Greensboro Radiology. Dr. Deveshwar received a Doctor of Medicine from University of Liverpool School of Medicine in 1979. He completed his residency at University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center and a fellowship in diagnostic neuroradiology and interventional neuroradiology at Louisiana State University Medical Center.