Stroke Awareness Month is a reminder: 'Time is brain'

By Rachel McNeill - Anchor

HOUSTON - Every 40 seconds, a stroke occurs in America.

It's one of the leading causes of disability, mainly because too many people ignore the symptoms and don't get help in time, potentially missing the window to get tPA, or tissue Plasminogen Activator, which is the only Food and Drug Administration-approved medication used to treat stroke.

Dr. Randall Wright, medical director of the Conroe Regional Neurovascular Stroke Center, explained, "Stroke is a very time sensitive disease, and we have only three hours, on typical cases, to treat a stroke."

Doctors remind people that "Time is brain," which emphasizes that human nervous tissue is rapidly lost and stroke progresses.

In honor of National Stroke Awareness Month, staff with Conroe Regional Medical Center performed a stroke drill, fine-tuning their door-to-door response time from EMS to the emergency department.

First and foremost, the symptoms of stroke, according to the American Stroke Association, can include:

  • Sudden numbness or weakness of 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

Wright said stroke is preventable.

Knowing the risk factors such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, is key. He added, "If you smoke, that's the biggest reversible risk factor. If we're inactive and we're not participating in exercise regularly, then we do increase our risk for it. If we're having a cholesterol-high diet, having fast-food, all those over time start to clog up blood vessels and put us at risk for stroke."

Last year, Brenda Makovy suffered a stroke in her mother's house.

She told Local 2, "I was standing up talking and my legs just went out."

She ignored the signs and didn't get help until she collapsed the next morning.

A neighbor found her and called for help.

"Very lucky that I didn't have any residual effects," Makovy said.

That was her second stroke. She said she learned a valuable lesson.

She said, "Go get checked out if you even think (it could be a stroke). It doesn't hurt."

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