Monday, May 2, 2011

Do you know the signs of stroke?

Tyra Tarbox is a 45 year old mother of four from Cumberland who suffered a significant seizure resulting in a stroke late one evening after returning home from work. Luckily, her husband was there and he took quick action, calling 911. She was rushed to the hospital, evaluated, and quickly flown to a Boston hospital for surgery.

When she awoke six days later, Tyra had no body movement and could not move her eyes to the right. She had survived not only a stroke, but also a series of complications resulting from her brain’s lack of blood. After almost a month of inpatient rehabilitation in Portland, she returned home on her husband’s birthday and is now leading a full life.

Tyra’s story is one of many stories of Mainers who have had a stroke. Unfortunately, not all the stories end so happily. Stroke is the fourth leading cause of death in Maine and the United States and is also a leading cause of serious long-term disability in adults. The Maine CDC/DHHS Cardiovascular Health Program is working with the Maine Affiliate of the American Stroke Association and other statewide partners to help more Mainers recognize the symptoms of stroke and the importance of calling 911 at the first sign of stroke.

To bring attention to National Stroke Awareness Month, Tyra Tarbox will join statewide partners working to improve stroke systems of care at the American Stroke Association Legislative Awareness Day on Tuesday, May 3, 2011, from 9:00 AM to 11:30 AM at the Maine State House in the Hall of Flags.

Early recognition of stroke symptoms is critical – time lost is brain lost. Stroke symptoms include sudden:
  • Numbness or weakness in the face, arm or leg
  • Slurred speech
  • Blurred vision
  • Dizziness or loss of balance
  • Severe headache

“A patient’s survival and successful recovery are greatly increased if symptoms are recognized quickly and medical attention is given right away,” said Dr. Stephen Sears, Acting Director Maine CDC/DHHS. “Our goal is to raise awareness and empower everyone — patient and bystander — to see stroke as a medical emergency requiring an immediate call to 911. If we increase people’s ability to recognize stroke symptoms, we can positively impact patients and hopefully increase their chance of having little or no long-term physical or mental disability.”

Nearly 75% of all strokes occur in people aged 65 years and older. Risk factors such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, smoking, lack of physical activity, poor nutrition, and a history of cardiovascular disease or diabetes also increase the possibility of stroke.

More information is available at the following websites: and

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