Your Views: Strokes can strike seemingly healthy people

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ACPS and the Alexandria Health Department have reported a case of pulmonary tuberculosis at Patrick Henry Elementary School (File photo)
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To the editor:

In response to the letter, “Learn to spot a stroke and save a life,” I wanted to share our family’s story so that others can be educated. My 54-year-old husband ran the Marine Corps Marathon on Oct. 28, 2018, his second time running it and getting a personal record. Later that evening he suffered a major stroke while we were sitting on the sofa watching TV.

Because of my first aid training for our volunteer sawyer work with the Potomac Appalachian Trail Club, I immediately recognized the ‘droop’ in his mouth and called 911. He was rushed to the hospital and after his CAT scan was given the tPA, super blood thinner, and went into surgery for the thrombectomy where they placed two stents – one in his forehead and one in his neck.

Two weeks before his major stroke, my husband’s left hand had gone numb. These types of symptoms can appear and last less than 24 hours before disappearing, but they can be a warning sign for an impending stroke.

Of the stroke risk factors – high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol, obesity, cigarette or cigar smoking, diabetes, carotid or other artery disease, physical inactivity, excessive alcohol use, abuse of illegal drugs, diet high in salty, fried or greasy foods or obstructive sleep apnea, he only had some pre-hypertension which was controlled through diet and exercise.

We have been learning a lot about strokes and the fact that they can happen to young, healthy people is something that needs to be shared.

The warning signs of a stroke are:

• Sudden numbness or weakness of the face, arm or leg, especially on one side of the body;

• Sudden confusion, trouble speaking or understanding;

• Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes;

• Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination;

• Sudden, severe headache with no known cause.

Is the person experiencing a sudden loss of balance or coordination? Is the person having trouble seeing in one or both eyes? Or double vision? Ask the person to smile. Does one side of the face droop? Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm drift downward? Ask the person to repeat a simple phrase. Does the speech sound slurred? If you observe any of these signs, then it’s time to call 911.

-Eliza Engle, Alexandria

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