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Wisconsin Stroke Survivor: Time is Of the Essence

About one in four stroke survivors has a second stroke. It's important to know the warning signs of stroke. (American Stroke Association)
About one in four stroke survivors has a second stroke. It's important to know the warning signs of stroke. (American Stroke Association)
October 25, 2017

MADISON, Wis. - Although stroke is the second leading cause of death worldwide, it's largely treatable, according to the American Stroke Association.

This Sunday is World Stroke Day, to educate the public about what to do in a stroke emergency. Someone has a stroke every two seconds, and one in six people will experience a stroke in his or her lifetime.

Eric Sarno of Madison had his stroke 10 years ago. It was a long rehab for Eric, but he's now recovered and is an active runner. He said everyone should know the signs of stroke.

"All of a sudden. you have a really bad headache, or I can't pronounce something, or my vision in one of my eyes is blurry, my left foot isn't moving," he said. "If it's something strange, usually on one side of the body, that should be a sign that you really should be seeking help."

About one in four stroke survivors has a second stroke, but most second strokes are preventable with a healthy lifestyle and diet.

The American Stroke Association tries to educate people about stroke by using the acronym "FAST": face drooping, arm weakness, speech difficulty, and time to call 911. The faster stroke victims are treated, the more likely their recovery. Sarno said the ongoing research into stroke is paying off.

"There's hope now that we know what kind of leads to stroke," he said. "We know that there's better medications that can kind of reduce the risk. We also know that if someone does have a stroke, there are interventions that are possible nowadays that weren't when I was younger."

Sarno said he was extremely fortunate in that he was in the hospital being treated for something else when his stroke occurred, so he got critical medical attention immediately. He said time is of the essence.

"You want to be able to recognize the signs and symptoms so that you can get someone help immediately, and the faster you get help, the chances are surviving, and not only surviving but fully recovering, or getting pretty close to fully recovered."

In most cases, someone other than the stroke patient, such as a family member, makes the decision to get treatment. Sarno said that's why it's important that everyone knows the stroke warning signs.

More information is online at strokeassociation.org.

Tim Morrissey, Public News Service - WI