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Don’t Ignore Stroke Signs When They Hit | NEWS-Line for Cardiovascular & Pulmonary Rehabilitation Specialists

Don’t Ignore Stroke Signs When They Hit


A few weeks before Halloween 2011, Houston radio personality Colonel St. James got the scare of his life when he suffered a stroke, his second. Lucky for him, it wasn’t a severe episode and he sought care at an Advanced Primary Stroke Center—Ben Taub General Hospital.

One week later, the 40-year veteran of the airways was back on the job spinning classic rock hits on KKRW-FM (93.7 The Arrow).

“Early detection of stroke and immediate treatment is the best way to ensure patients have the best recovery possible. Treating a stroke victim—quickly in minutes and seconds—can be the difference between life and death,” says Dr. Joseph Kass, chief, Neurology, and medical director, Stroke Service, Ben Taub General Hospital, and assistant professor, Department of Neurology, Baylor College of Medicine.

Each year, about 800,000 people experience a new or recurrent stroke, the nation’s third leading cause of death. On average, someone suffers a stroke every 40 seconds or dies of a stroke every 3.1 minutes.

“It was scary and totally unexpected. I started feeling a tingling on the right side of my body from my ear to my foot. The bad thing is I ignored it and thought I could get over it on my own. Once I finally figured it out, I knew I had to get help right away,” St. James says.

Though he was slow in responding to his symptoms, he did the right thing with deciding to seek medical care.

Fortunately, he went to Ben Taub General Hospital, one of the few advanced stroke care centers in Houston. Recognized as a comprehensive stroke care center and recipient of the 2011 Gold Seal of Approval as an Advanced Primary Stroke Center by The Joint Commission, Ben Taub Hospital’s team is trained to handle the intricacies of stroke emergencies.

Stroke is the number one cause of serious, long-term disability in the US with about 4.7 million stroke survivors alive today. The earlier one can get medical care, the better the long-term outcome, Kass adds.

Warning signs of stroke include:
• 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; and
• Sudden, severe headache with no known cause.

St. James is doing well today and is undergoing weekly rehabilitation sessions to help him regain full walking ability. He’s eager to use his experience to remind people of the importance of stroke prevention and education.

“I denied what I was feeling and just didn’t want to pay attention to what was happening to me. I was lucky because it wasn’t a big stroke, but it could have been much worse,” he says.

May is National Stroke Awareness Month and St. James is an advocate for timely stroke response and education. If someone has one or more signs of stroke, immediately call 9-1-1 for an ambulance, he says.

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