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If you think you’re having a stroke, call 911 immediately

“You’re going to walk out of here.”

Gladys Freed heard that message from Vibhav Bansal, MD, and was able to walk out of the hospital. She says getting to the hospital fast when she had a stroke helped save her life.

In August, 2015, Freed felt dizzy at home and had stroke symptoms. An ambulance took her to Carle where doctors confirmed that she was having a stroke. Neurologists used a catheter to remove the blockage in her brain. “After I woke up, Dr. Bansal came to my room, and asked me to raise my arms and legs and repeat a sentence. I was able to move all of my limbs and repeat the sentence back to him. That’s when he said I would recover. It was music to my ears.”

Erin Eddy, RN, coordinator of the Stroke Program at Carle, says it’s quick action that saves lives. “If you have stroke symptoms, you need to call 911 right away. The faster you get to us, the faster we can start treating you to restore blood flow to the brain, and it’s more likely that you will have a complete recovery. More time spent without good blood flow means more damage to the brain cells themselves, so you need to get help as soon as possible to limit the damage.”

Carle has the tools that can help people who are having a stroke. “The stroke team is standing by 24 hours a day, seven days a week, which makes our program one of the top 10 percent in the nation in treating strokes,” said Eddy. “We are the only area facility with a neurointerventional team always available to treat emergency cases. The stroke team uses advanced treatments and technologies to break up and retrieve blood clots and allow blood to flow to the brain. If you get to us as soon as possible you have a chance to recover.”

Remember “FAST” about stroke symptoms and response:

  • F. Face: Is the face drooping during a smile?
  • A. Arms: Will both arms raise to the same height?
  • S. Speech: Is speech slurred?
  • T. Time: Call 911 immediately.

“Don’t wait to see if the stroke symptoms subside,” Eddy added. “Even if you don’t feel funny anymore, the episode could have been a mini-stroke, which is still dangerous. Don’t wait for a friend or family member to come over to evaluate the situation. Call 911. Ambulance crews can get things started, and they call the hospital ahead that they have a stroke patient coming, so that treatment can happen that much more quickly when you arrive at the hospital, giving you an even better chance for recovery.”

Thanks to quick action last summer, Freed is back to an active lifestyle. “I play golf, euchre and bridge with my friends, and I am enjoying my life,” she concluded.