Think FAST when stroke hap­pens

Diamond Fields Advertiser - - NEWS - PATSY BEANGSTROM NEWS EDITOR

MALEBOGO Moth­ibedi is an at­trac­tive, healthy, slim 34-year-old woman, who, just two weeks ago, suf­fered a stroke.

Her first day back at work at the Sol Plaatje Mu­nic­i­pal­ity yes­ter­day af­ter her stroke on Septem­ber 4 saw Moth­ibedi back to her usual bub­bly self – ex­cept now she is on long-term med­i­ta­tion to help pre­vent a sim­i­lar oc­cur­rence.

With Septem­ber be­ing Heart and Stroke Month, Denise Coet­zee, spokesper­son for Medi­clinic Kim­ber­ley/Gariep, pointed out yes­ter­day that one of the mes­sages that needs to be con­veyed is that a per­son is never too young to have a stroke. “The other im­por­tant mes­sage is that time is of the essence.

“This is the story of a young woman whose life was saved be­cause the med­i­cal per­son­nel at­tend­ing to her recog­nised the symp­toms and were able to give her the ap­pro­pri­ate treat­ment,” Coet­zee said yes­ter­day.

“De­spite her young age, the pa­tient pre­sented with the clas­sic signs of a stroke when the am­bu­lance staff picked her up. She was very lucky that they recog­nised the symp­toms, and that the triage sis­ter in the emer­gency unit at Medi­clinic Gariep im­me­di­ately alerted the ER doc­tor on duty, Dr Marinda le Grange, who, af­ter as­sess­ing her, sent her to ra­di­ol­ogy for a scan.

“Great team­work be­tween the emer­gency unit staff, ra­di­ol­ogy and the ER doc­tor on duty, Dr Le Grange, not only saved the pa­tient’s life, but also res­cued her from paral­y­sis.”

Dr Le Grange said that the public needed to re­alise that the quicker a stroke pa­tient gets med­i­cal help, the bet­ter the clin­i­cal out­come. “Time is brain. If you sus­pect that you have any symp­toms of a stroke, get to a hospi­tal as quickly as pos­si­ble.”

She added that if stroke vic­tims re­ceived help within the golden pe­riod of three hours, a scan could be done to de­ter­mine if the stroke was caused by a clot or bleed­ing. “Most (80%) strokes are caused by a blood clot. The other 20% by bleed­ing.”

Ac­cord­ing to a study done in the USA on 58 000 pa­tients in 2013, each 15-minute re­duc­tion in the time to ini­ti­a­tion of treat­ment was as­so­ci­ated with an in­crease in the odds of walk­ing in­de­pen­dently at dis­charge and be­ing dis­charged to home rather than a re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion cen­tre.

“Stroke pa­tients with a blood clot can be in­jected with medicine to break up the clot. Strokes can cause long-last­ing dis­abil­ity or even death. How­ever, treat­ment and pre­ven­tive mea­sures can re­duce the brain dam­age that oc­curs be­cause of stroke. The sooner this medicine is in­jected, the bet­ter the chances are of re­cov­ery,” Dr Le Grange stated.

Symp­toms in­clude sud­den weak­ness or droop­i­ness of the face or prob­lems with vi­sion; sud­den weak­ness or numb­ness of one arm and dif­fi­culty speak­ing, slurred speech or gar­bled speech.

The acro­nym FAST is used to re­mem­ber the symp­toms (Fa­cial droop­ing, Arm weak­ness, Speech dif­fi­cul­ties and Time to call emer­gency ser­vices).

“The symp­toms of a stroke usu­ally be­gin sud­denly but some­times de­velop over hours or days, de­pend­ing upon the type of stroke. One or more ar­eas of the brain can be dam­aged. De­pend­ing upon the area af­fected, a per­son most com­monly may lose the abil­ity to move one side of the body and the abil­ity to speak.”

Stroke risk fac­tors in­clude be­ing older than 40 years, heart dis­ease, high blood pres­sure, smok­ing, di­a­betes, high blood choles­terol lev­els, il­le­gal drug use, re­cent child­birth, in­ac­tive life­style and lack of ex­er­cise, obe­sity, his­tory of blood clots and fam­ily his­tory of car­diac dis­ease and/or stroke.

Moth­ibedi, how­ever, was to­tally un­pre­pared when she had her stroke.

“I have al­ways been healthy and even on the day when I had the stroke I felt ab­so­lutely fine.”

She said she left work at around 4pm and went home. “I went into my bed­room and my mother, who was sit­ting on the stoep, asked me what was wrong be­cause I was not walk­ing prop­erly. I didn’t feel any­thing un­to­ward, how­ever.”

She said her mother felt her and said she felt a bit fever­ish and said she looked dizzy.

“Sud­denly I felt that I had a mas­sive headache. That was the first time I felt funny.”

Moth­ibedi said her mother no­ticed that her mouth was pulling skew and called the am­bu­lance. “They ar­rived and took my blood pres­sure, which was nor­mal, as well as my sugar lev­els, which were el­e­vated.”

On the way to the hospi­tal, Moth­ibedi said that she in­di­cated to the para­medic, be­cause at that stage she couldn’t talk prop­erly, that she couldn’t feel her tongue and her left leg. “My whole left side was numb.”

From there on, much of what hap­pened is a blur. “I spent a day and a half in high care.”

Moth­ibedi says that tests have been done to de­ter­mine what caused the stroke. “I am still wait­ing for the out­come of the test. At this stage it is still a mys­tery.

“The fact that I had a stroke was a to­tal shock to me - I was very emo­tional when I re­alised what had hap­pened. I have two young boys, a 10-year-old and a two-year-old . . . they wouldn’t have a mother if some­thing hap­pened to me.”

She stated that be­sides be­ing a slim 66kg and play­ing ten­nis, she also has no fam­ily his­tory of strokes or heart dis­ease.

“I thank God for my sur­vival and I am ex­tremely grate­ful. My story could have had a very dif­fer­ent end­ing.”

Malebogo Moth­ibedi

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