Stroke ‘selfie’ helps save woman’s life
(CNN) — It’s not your usual selfie.
“The sensation is happening again,” Stacey Yepes tells the camera. “It’s all tingling on left side.”
“I don’t know why this is happening to me.”
The Toronto-area woman was having her third stroke in three days. And this time, she refused to suffer in private.
Yepes recorded a selfie video of her symptoms after pulling over while driving. The next day, the video would help doctors at Toronto Western Hospital correctly diagnose her with transient ischemic attacks, or “mini-strokes,” due to plaque buildup in her arteries.
Now, according to Yepes, she is on cholesterol-lowering medication and blood thinners, and hasn’t had any more strokes.
The video may have saved her life.
Two days before the recording, doctors at a local emergency room in Toronto dismissed her face numbness and slurred speech as stress-related. They told her stroke tests had come back negative and counseled the 49-year-old legal secretary on breathing techniques.
Those were ineffective, and Yepes suffered two additional mini-strokes in consecutive days — the first leaving the hospital parking lot on April 1.
She knew something had to be done.
“I think it was just to show somebody, because I knew it was not stress-related,” she said in an interview with the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. “And I thought if I could show somebody what was happening, they would have a better understanding.”
That was exactly what happened. Yepes filmed the third “mini-stroke” the next day en route to work. After arriving, she showed the video to co-workers, who immediately suggested she go to a different hospital.
Still, Dr. Markku Kaste with the World Stroke Organization said he believes Yepes was lucky.
His advice: “Don’t waste time on a video, just call 911.”
He said, “It’s the same thing for everyone. If you’re having a stroke, think you’re having a stroke or see someone having one — just call 911.”
Kaste and his organization are working on an upcoming campaign targeting women and their likelihood for strokes.
According to the National Stroke Organization, 55,000 women have strokes each year.
As in Yepes’ case, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said signs of stroke generally include sudden numbness, confusion and difficulty walking.
The American Stroke Association uses the acronym F.A.S.T — meaning face dropping, arm weakness and speech difficulty are all signs that it’s time to call 911.
Usually, paramedics, emergency responders and doctors correctly identify the situation and will get individuals the help they need.
“It’s hard to say why there was an incorrect diagnosis (initially), but things like that can happen,” Kaste said. “Still, the quicker you are to the hospital, the higher the likelihood of a good outcome.”
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