Regional Health urges timely response for stroke symptoms

RAPID CITY, SD (KEVN) - "I knew my right arm was raising up or doing something I wasn't telling it to do ... I had a severe headache," said Dixie Doyle.

Doyle is a former nurse and eight years ago, she faced a medical diagnosis that would change her life forever.

'When you have a stroke, it's kind of like things disconnect up there, it's like what's going on ... but you don't really know," she continued.

When that disconnect happens, medical personnel wants you to remember the "BE FAST" acronym. If you lose balance or vision, experience facial or arm droop, slurred speech, they urge you to call for an ambulance so that you can get to the emergency as soon as possible.

"So you've already started treatment as soon as the ambulance can get there. They can give vital signs, blood sugar, start an IV, all of those steps help increase the speed of us getting your treatment in the hospital," said Sheila Long, a registered nurse, and stroke coordinator for Regional Health Rapid City Hospital.

Every minute in which a stroke is untreated, the average patient loses 1.9 million neurons and every hour, as many as it does in almost 3.6 years of normal aging.

Long says only knowing the risk factors like hypertension, high cholesterol, diabetes, and weight can never really prepare you.

"You can have all the risk factors and not have a stroke or you can have none of the risk factors and have a stroke, it's just a numbers game," Long said.

For Doyle, before her stroke, she says she was a semi-healthy eater and worked out even, but she has become a "lefty" because of weakness in her right side and now has a wonky walk.

Doyle is glad she made it to the hospital when she did though, and urges others that experience a stroke that as they begin to recover, use what they still have.

"You have to appreciate what have and don't dwell on what you lost," she said.