Quick Thinking Saves Young Woman from Stroke, Her Message

Updated: 05/03/2013 7:47 PM KSTP.com By: Jessica Miles

When it comes to health, stroke is the fourth leading cause of death in the U.S.

More than 85,000 Minnesotans are currently affected by stroke.

And more than 30-percent of strokes happen to women under the age of 65

Jennifer Kirchen of Apple Valley had a stroke at age 36.
The active mom, volleyball player and coach was at a practice when she said something wasn't right.

"My hand started going numb, and I thought I must have pinched a nerve, I thought I'm going to shake it off," she said.

Within minutes her whole hand went limp.

She was taken to urgent care, eventually rushed to the hospital.

"By the time I got to United Hospital, I couldn't walk or talk or communicate," said Kirchen.
University of Minnesota neurosurgeon Dr. Andy Grande said while more common in older people, strokes can and do impact people of every age.

The key is to know the signs, and act fast.

"If it's in the motor area it will lead to lack of ability to use your hand, facial droop, lack of ability to use your leg as well," said Grande.

Because she got to the hospital quickly, doctors were able to use a drug to dissolve the clot in Jen's brain.
But she still had to learn to walk, talk and speak again.

Her message:

"This can happen to anybody and the most important thing to do is act fast, so you can recognize the symptoms, so you can get treatment," she said.

Doctor Grande has one other request:

"My goal is that 100% of primary care physicians, when they see people in their office, they assess people for risk of stroke.  Currently they don't," said Grande.

Doctors use the acronym FAST to spot stroke symptoms.

F-for facial weakness

A-for arm weakness

S-for speech problems

T-for time. Time loss=brain loss

Doctor Grande said if you have the signs, don't lay down thinking they will go away, get to the hospital immediately.

The Minnesota Stroke Association Strides for Stroke Walk is May 4 at Como Park in St. Paul. It starts at 9 a.m.

For more information, click here.