Avera Medical Minute: Acting fast when you see the signs of a stroke

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Sioux Falls, S.D. - May is stroke awareness month.

During a stroke, blood flow to the brain is disrupted.

That leads to problems like weakness in the arm or legs and vision and speech problems.

“Do not think it’s nothing,” stroke patient Denise Ferrie said. “Call 911. Even if it’s not. At least get it checked out.”

Denise Ferrie works part time at MD Engraving in Sioux Falls.

On March 12th her day went a little different than normal.

“I was done for the day,” Ferrie said. “I was going to grab my purse and leave and all of a sudden my body felt weird. It was the weirdest feeling. I’ve never had it before and then within I would say seconds, then the slurring started.”

“She had a look on her face like she wasn’t even here and all of a sudden, when she started to speak her left side went droopy on me and she started to slur,” MD Engraving owner Mickey Metcalf said.

Mickey knew right away that Denise was having a stroke and had someone call 911.

“It was all perfect timing to be honest about it,” Metcalf said. “We're just thankful she wasn’t walking out the door or being in her car. That she was here and that we were able to help her out.”

Denise was taken to Avera and as soon as she arrived…

“The stroke team was right there to greet me,” Ferrie said.

Dr. Andrew Ridder was on that team.

“We assessed her and gave her the TPA, Tissue plasminogen activator, a clot busting medication and her symptoms got quite a bit better while she was in the hospital,” Ridder said.

When dealing with a stroke, it’s important to "be fast".

In stroke care it stands for:

B- balance when it comes to dizziness
E- eye sight

F- facial asymmetry such as if one side of your face is drooping
A- arm or leg weakness
S- speech changes such as slurring your words
T- and time

“If you have a blood flow blockage, getting into the hospital allows us to give a clot busting medicine within the first few hours,” Ridder said.

For Denise, that was the case. Doctors credit her rapid recovery to getting that medicine to her within that first hour.

“It certainly feels wonderful to come in and see that somebody can get so much back after a stroke,” Ridder said.

Now, Denise is back working at the store and said she is so grateful for everyone that made an impact.

“That one hour is so vital to get here to the hospital and to get the help,” Ferrie said. “I can only thank God and Avera for being there for me.”

To help prevent a stroke, doctors say it’s important to make sure your blood pressure, blood sugar, and cholesterol are under control.

You should also eat a heart healthy diet and be physically active.