Your Health: Improving odds for stroke patients

Dr. Amit Arora heads the stroke team at Huntsville Hospital.
Dr. Amit Arora heads the stroke team at Huntsville Hospital.

HUNTSVILLE, AL (WAFF) - A stroke needs to be treated quickly, like a heart attack, only with the brain.

Modern medicine keeps improving the odds for patients who have suffered a stroke.

Cheryl Hood was only 52 when she suffered a stroke two years ago.

"I was getting ready for work, and I just went out.  I was in the garage feeding my dog and cat.  I was just about to leave, really.  And I was lucky I was able to make it into the house, but I didn't have any more energy," said Hood.

That was around 7 a.m., and she laid on the floor until her husband came home at 5 p.m.

"I could hear my girlfriend come at lunchtime. She comes up.  Her car is there.  She's beating on the door, and calling my name because she knew it was unusual for me not to make it to work," she said.

Hood said her left side would not work.

Later, her husband, Byron, got an ambulance and her to the hospital, beginning the long recovery.

She says her family helped.  Even her daughter's Mississippi State soccer team came to visit her in the hospital.

Hood's doctor happens to head the stroke team, Dr. Amit Arora.  He says that "team" makes the difference when it comes to quality care.

"It's a comprehensive program that involves neurologists and internists and physical therapists and social workers," said Dr. Arora.

He says the team works that plan for each patient.

By remembering the word "fast," you could spot a stroke in others:

"Facial asymmetry: One side of the face is weaker than the other.  We tend to think about speech.  Is the speech slurred?  Are you having trouble getting words out?  Are you having trouble understanding speech? And we tend to say that we need to recognize these symptoms fast - in a timely fashion," said Arora.

Time is an enemy when it comes to treatment.

"...A medication called TPA.  It's a medication given through the IV if you come to the hospital within three hours," he said.

In certain select cases, he said it can be administered a little later.

Just as there have been a lot of changes over the years when it comes to treating stroke, there are also a lot of ways you can prevent one in the first place.

"Things like diabetes, getting that under control; blood pressure, getting that under control; cholesterol," he said.

Also important is diet and exercise.

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