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Avera Medical Minute: Sioux Falls Radio DJ shares story of on-air stroke

Knowing the signs of a stroke could save your life one day.
Published: May. 31, 2022 at 11:02 AM CDT
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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - Greg Belfrage makes a living using his words. Recently, those words have been more difficult to find.

“It takes more work for me to do my show now than it did prior to the stroke. So I would be lying to you if I said I am exactly the same person I was before the stroke. No, it’s changed me. I have a harder time finding words,” said Belfrage.

Last July, Belfrage was in the middle of his three-hour radio show, when he felt something was off.

“I had numbness on the whole left side of my face, my arm. I could talk, I didn’t notice any slurring. Others did, I didn’t, but I knew something wasn’t right,” he said.

He rushed to the emergency room, where he found out one of the arteries in his brain was completely blocked and another was partially blocked.

Avera neuroendovascular specialist Dr. Alex Linn was there.

“I still remember this day, having a conversation with Greg in his patient room,” said Dr. Linn. “He had presented to us with symptoms of a stroke, they were fortunately fairly mild at that time. But Greg was what I call hanging by a thread and that’s because the area he was having a stroke only had blood supply by one main artery with no other collateral vessels coming in, so he was hanging by that little thread of flow.”

Belfrage immediately received a stent to open up the passage in his brain.

He has since made adjustments to his everyday life in getting more exercise, and eating better.

Nearly a year later, he can joke about it.

“And I had joked for years, I can get really angry about things and I had jokingly said ‘I’m going to have a stroke on air one day,’ and I never really intended to,” he said.

Jokes aside, Belfrage understands the gravity of the situation and how that day on air, could’ve been his last.

“I have just felt very fortunate to be alive, to be able to share my story. And it’s one of the reasons I’m so glad to be able to talk to you, and I’ve told my listeners on my show about my stroke. If you know somebody or if you have suffered any of the signs, take it seriously.”

Signs of a stroke include sudden loss of balance or eyesight, weakness in the arm, face drooping, and difficulty with speech.

For more information, visit www.Avera.org/MedicalMinute

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