Stroke ‘selfie’ helps save Canadian woman’s life

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(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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7 comments

  • kww

    it did not help her when she went into the ER the first time and quacks dismissed the symptoms and said tests were negative for stroke…yeah…what tests were done? Seems sketchy and most likely no test or the wrong tests were administered…as well perhaps at best the tests were diagnosed by a doc that had no experience in this area…she is fortunate and blessed.

  • KcRN

    The test they run in the ED for stroke like symptoms is a CT scan. With the tia (mini stroke) the symptoms resolve and nothing shows on the CT because there is no permanent damage to the brain. If she is under stress, that actually may be a reasonable diagnosis. Stress can have strange manifestations and can cause people to have stroke like symptoms among other things. They probably should have kept her and run more tests but with the way the healthcare system is being run these days they probably didn’t want to “waste” the money. It’s only going to get worse.

  • CT

    Sue the ever livin’ ef you cee kay out of the first hospital doctors for malpractice. This wasn’t a doctor house case this was a doctor obvious case. One side of your face is numb and speech slurred…due to stress?!?!…c’mon! This lady has probably not only saved her own life but the lives of many other people from the lesson those quacks are going to get.

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