Know the Symptoms of Stroke: Every Minute CountsSep 24, 2013
Recently Randy Travis had heart failure followed by a stroke. Do you know what the symptoms of stroke are? Dr. Troy Madsen discusses what causes a stroke and how you can help.
Interviewer: First he had a heart attack, then he had a stroke.
We're here with Dr. Troy Madsen from the University of Utah Hospital and Emergency Medicine, and the question is, "Is it common after heart failure to then go on to have a stroke like in Randy Travis' case?"
Dr. Troy Madsen: Well, you know with Randy Travis it's hard to know exactly what happened there. Obviously they protect a lot of that health information so they're not going to release a lot of details. But from what I understand he had heart failure, then they did a procedure to try and help his heart out because he was in such serious condition, and then he had a stroke.
So in terms of what happened, he may have had a stroke somehow related to the heart failure or it may have been a complication of the surgery. And both of those are things that we do see, not on a very regular basis, but we do see here and there.
Interviewer: And what exactly is a stroke from a medical standpoint? What's going on there?
Dr. Troy Madsen: Another way to think of a stroke is as a brain attack. We think of heart attacks. We think of a blood clot causing decreased flow to the heart. Same thing happens to the brain, exactly the same thing. You have the arteries that feed the brain, that give the brain the oxygen it needs to work. If something gets lodged in there, either it breaks off from somewhere else in the body, or it just builds up in that artery that feeds the brain, then you have a stroke. You have decreased blood flow to the brain that causes problems.
So in terms of what we can take away from this for ourselves, you have to watch out for strokes in yourself and other people. So the big things to watch for are numbness or weakness generally on one side of the body, difficulty speaking, confusion, difficulty walking. Those are all signs of a stroke and if someone has these symptoms call 911 because if we get to you early enough, if we can get you in the ER and get you the treatment you need, we can oftentimes reverse those symptoms and spare the brain and make sure you're going to be back to normal or at least back to pretty good functioning.
Interviewer: I've heard just recently that literally every minute counts when it comes to a stroke as far as getting that patient seen and some sort of treatment started.
Dr. Troy Madsen: Yes, every minute counts in terms of trying to get people the help they need. There's actually just a study that just came out this last month. It looked exactly at that. It looked at how much time from the patient's symptoms until they got the treatment. They found the sooner they got that treatment the better off they were, the lower the risk of complications.