View across the Outer Harbour of Stornoway

Thursday, 8 April 2010

Recognising a stroke

Susie is recovering at an incredible pace for someone who suffered a massive stroke, all because Sherry saw Susie stumble - - that is the key that isn't mentioned below - - and then she asked Susie 3 questions. So simple - - these 3 questions literally saved Susie's life. Susie failed all three so 999 / 112 was called. Even though she had normal blood pressure readings and did not appear to be having a stroke, as she could converse to some extent with the Paramedics. They took her to the hospital right away.

Sometimes symptoms of a stroke are difficult to identify.
Unfortunately, lack of public awareness can spell disaster.
The stroke victim may suffer brain damage when people nearby fail to recognize the symptoms. Now doctors say a bystander can recognize a stroke by asking three simple questions:

* Ask the individual to SMILE.
* Ask him or her to RAISE BOTH ARMS.
* Ask the person to SPEAK A SIMPLE SENTENCE (Coherently)
(eg. "It is sunny out today")

If he or she has trouble with ANY of these tasks, call 999 / 112 immediately and describe the symptoms to the dispatcher. After discovering that a group of non-medical volunteers could identify facial weakness, arm weakness and speech problems, researchers urged the general public to learn the three questions. They presented their conclusions at the American Stroke Association's annual meeting last February. Widespread use of this test could result in prompt diagnosis and treatment of the stroke and prevent brain damage.


  1. WoW, I am so glad you posted this.
    I just copied and printed it and it is going on my fridge,as I tend to forget things.
    And am sending it via e-mail to others.

  2. I recognised my father had had a stroke and dialled 999.
    The doctor that examined him at the hospital told me he could find nothing wrong and that he was answering his questions well.
    I told him that my father was an exceptionally intelligent man and that he should be gauging his responses at a different level.
    My insistence that my father had suffered a minor stroke finally resulted in him being taken in for 'observation'. No treatment preventative or otherwise was given.
    The next day my father suffered a major stroke that paralysed him including his speech.
    He was no longer able to answer the pathetic questions that the doctor seemed adequate to evaluate his condition the day before.

    My father never recovered from the major stroke.
    He died 6 weeks later still unable to speak.

    I now speak for him.
    The lack of treatment he received by the NHS for the minor stroke he had in my opinion led to the likelihood of the major stroke 24hrs later and his inevitable death.

    I fought as much as I could for him to receive the treatment that I knew not only as his daughter but as a Veterinary surgeon that he required.
    I was totally ignored.
    My knowledge of my father's usual responses was not taken into consideration.

    My conclusion is that the doctor that examined my father was incapable of rising to a level of intelligence that could determine what little my father had lost in a minor stroke. I believe he still appeared far more intelligent and capable than the doctor asking the questions.

    I have great difficulty in dealing with doctors that believe they have nothing to learn once they get MD after their name.

    It only amazes me how young they can be!

  3. Wow. This was quite pertinent to me because my sister said her sister-in-law could not move her arms. I will have to tell her about this although they have probably discovered by now something is seriously amiss. But what a horror story Liz tells in her comment about her father. I do think there are some who get to the doctor in time but meet with a similar fate. For some reason, the doctor is unable to recognize a serious problem developing until it is too late.

  4. Liz,

    Upon reflection.

    Doctors make mistakes. Like: insisting to prescribe penicillin to people who are clearly marked as penicillin allergic. I can go on, but won't. I cannot begin to fathom how you must have felt, being unable to get through to a numbskull of a doctor how your father had changed post mild stroke.
    I also know a lady who suffered a stroke which only deprived her of half her eyesight. The doctors were more concerned to have her driving license taken away than implementing proper treatment - which was not initiated until 4 months later. It took 12 years for follow-up to be organised.

    Doctors are human beings, as fallible as you or I. The good ones recognise that. The bad ones don't.

  5. Guido,

    Upon reflection.

    I think that the education of doctors is seriously lacking in the experience required to recognise that a family member may have invaluable information to come to a correct diagnosis.
    I was frequently reminded that the best person to recocognise illness in any animal was their loving owner. Many was the time I examined an animal and failed to find any problem until further tests proved the owner correct. I very quickly learned to listen to a caring owner and follow up their instinctive worries.
    In my experience (over 30Yrs) there is no talent for recognising a problem that equals the bond between a caring owner and their pet.
    Perhaps doctors should realise that the person they are treating has a family that may have a greater knowledge of that person's true nature and therefore a greater ability to define the problem.

    I have made many mistakes in my private and professional life.
    I am a human being and I am not proud of that fact.
    I have only tried to learn throughout my life.
    I now try not to tar the whole medical profession with the brush that holds the contempt I have for those I have encountered.