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If You Think You Are Having a Stroke


A stroke is a brain attack. Basically, it is the same as having a heart attack in your brain. Most people would not delay calling 911 if they were having chest pain, but a recent survey conducted by Providence St. Peter Hospital showed that even though local people know to call 911, they don’t. No one is sure why, but it seems to be that way throughout the rest of the country, too.

There is nothing to be embarrassed about. Having a stroke is not your fault. And, it is not your job to figure out if the symptoms you have are a definite stroke, either. Plenty of people show up in the ER with chest pain that turns out not to be a heart attack, and no one thinks anything about it other than “I am glad it was not my heart.” What a great feeling to be told it was not a stroke and think “Well, I am glad it was not my brain.” There is no judgment from the medical staff -- we just want to be sure you are OK, or help you if you are not.

It is best to call 911 first. You can call your doctor or family later (but stay off the phone until the ambulance arrives). By calling 911, you can be sure the medics (EMS) will arrive quickly and can begin gathering vital information and starting treatment immediately, so there is no delay when you arrive to the ER. EMS will be calling ahead so the ER is prepared for you the moment you arrive, ensuring you get the fastest treatment available. Remember, we can always treat you, but the best treatments are the early treatments, and the “clot breaking drug” has to be started no later than 3 hours after the stroke starts.

Find out what to expect in the ambulance and at the hospital.