Stroke Symptoms? Be Fast

By Laxmi Kokatnur, MD,Mercy Clinic Neurology

Experiencing a stroke can be life changing. While there are different causes of strokes, one thing remains the same: High quality of care and fast treatment can radically alter the outcome for someone experiencing a stroke.

May is national stroke awareness month. By bringing attention to stroke prevention and education, we hope to help tackle an important issue that affects our community.

Stroke is the leading cause of serious long-term disability in the United States. Nationally, someone has a stroke about every 40 seconds. It accounts for one of every 19 deaths in the U.S., and about 795,000 people experience a new or recurrent stroke each year.

Stroke occurs when blood supply to the brain is interrupted by a clot in a blood vessel or a burst blood vessel. This causes the affected area of the brain to go without the blood and oxygen it needs, causing brain cells to die.

Symptoms of stroke depend on the part of the brain affected. There is an easy way to remember the signs of a stroke:


Balance – Does the person have a sudden loss of balance?

Eyes – Has the person lost vision in one or both eyes?

Face – Does the person’s face look uneven or droop on one side?

Arm – Does the person have weakness or numbness in one or both arms? Does one arm drift down when holding both arms out?

Speech – Is the person having trouble speaking? Does his or her speech sound strange?

Time – Call 911 for an ambulance immediately.

You need to act FAST. The sooner treatment begins, the better the chances of recovery.

Immediate treatment with clot-busting medicine can help reopen clogged arteries and minimize long-term effects of a stroke and prevent death. Other medicines can help prevent new blood clots to prevent future strokes.

With Mercy Hospital Joplin located next to Interstate 44, we are easily accessible to our stroke patients.

Stroke recovery takes time and often involves rehabilitation. Because a stroke affects so many functions – motor skills, speech, language, cognition, vision, paralysis and emotions – fast treatment and rehabilitation can improve a patient’s chances for the best possible recovery.

According to the American Stroke Association, 80 percent of strokes are preventable. The most effective way to prevent a stroke is to adopt healthy behaviors such as controlling high blood pressure, healthy diet, regular exercise, healthy weight, stress management, avoiding tobacco and smoking, and caring for other health conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure or high cholesterol.

Mercy supports our patients and their families through our Four States Stroke Support Group for survivors and caregivers. This group meets at 1:30 pm the third Monday monthly at the Joplin Senior Center, 2616 S. Picher Ave.

At Mercy, we are grateful for the opportunity to work with this great community. As neurologists, we treat conditions involving the nervous system, including stroke patients. If you have any concerns about your stroke risks or recovery, please don’t hesitate to schedule with a Mercy physician who can help set up an action plan.

Laxmi Kokatnur, M.D., is a physician with Mercy Clinic Neurology – Joplin. To make an appointment, call 417.633.7426 or visit the clinic at 100 Mercy Way, Suite 540.