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Surviving a Stroke: Time Is of the Essence

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Surviving a Stroke: Time Is of the Essence
Stroke is the fifth leading cause of death in the United States, according to the CDC

DILWORTH, Minn. — In just a matter of moments, an ordinary summer day for John Schmitt of Dilworth turned into a nightmare.

“I couldn’t talk, I couldn’t move my arms — or my right arm, I couldn’t move that,” he said, describing what his family told him about the incident.

He and his neighbor Dick Schroeder were chopping and stacking firewood in the yard.

“That’s about all I remember until I woke up in the hospital,” said Schmitt.

Schroeder was by his side. He said, “I looked around and he wasn’t around, and I looked down and there he was on the ground.”

If it wasn’t for some neighborly help and an immediate call to 911, Schmitt may have not made it.

“That’s what they tell me, that I must’ve saved his life,” said Schroeder.

Not only is Schmitt still alive, but his recovery has been impressively quick because of Schroeder’s urgency.

Dr. Gautam Sachdeva with Sanford Health says when it comes to strokes, time is of the essence.

“Time lost is brain lost,” he explained. “In John’s case, nobody wasted any time. They brought him right away. The neighbors recognized it, the EMS recognized it, they alerted us. We recognized it, we took him to the scan, we found the clot, we took it out, and there you go.”

That kind of team effort in beating a stroke begins with recognizing the symptoms.

Becoming familiar with the acronym “BE FAST” may help save a life.

It stands for:

B – Balance: Is the person suddenly having trouble with balance or coordination?

E – Eyes: Is the person experiencing suddenly blurred or double vision or a sudden loss of vision in one or both eyes?

F – Face: Drooping Does one side of the face droop or is it numb?

A- Arm Weakness: Is one arm weak or numb?

S – Speech Difficulty: Is speech slurred, are they unable to speak, or are they hard to understand?

T – Time to call 911: If the person shows any of these symptoms, even if the symptoms go away, call 911 and get them to the hospital immediately

Dr. Sachdeva reiterated, “If you are seeing the signs and symptoms, act on it right away. It’s very critical to seek immediate medical attention. Call 911.”

“The first hour. You gotta get help the first hour. Every minute counts,” said Schmitt’s wife, Cyndi Schmitt.

She says she feels lucky her husband is still by her side.

“John’s lucky and I’m lucky, and we have great neighbors.”

Schroeder explained, “From what I was told is if it wasn’t for my quick response, that he’d probably been a vegetable.”

The message Schmitt and those who helped him want to send is clear: don’t delay getting help.

Schmitt has recovered nearly fully, and is able to once again walk and talk as before.

Sanford Health Fargo is being recognized nationally for its efforts in caring for stroke patients.

The hospital has received the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association’s Get With The Guidelines – Stroke Gold Plus Quality Achievement Award.

That means the hospital has maintained the highest level of care for its stroke patients over the past two years.

At Sanford, Dr. Sachdeva is alerted directly when a stroke patient is transported to the hospital, which allows the medical team to make important decisions quicker.

Those at Sanford stress that the pandemic should not deter people from getting medical help in case of an emergency, and that precautions are in place to protect patients from COVID-19.



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