Katie Murphy is a 14-year-old from Wisconsin. Recently, she was helping her mother when she noticed something was off. She thought back to something she had recently learned in school, and it proved to be a valuable lesson. In fact, it saved her mother’s life.
Christa Murphy, Katie’s mother, was starting her day when she was having some difficulty performing simple routine tasks. She was struggling with tasks like putting toothpaste on her toothbrush. Finding this odd, she called Katie into her room for help.
When Katie came to help, she noticed that her mother’s speech was all jumbled as well. Katie quickly realized that her mom was trying to tell her what was going on but wasn’t making any sense. Katie thought back to a science class that she had just two days prior and immediately called 911.
It turned out, her mother was having a stroke. Katie knew that because she thought it was “cool and weird” that a person’s speech got mixed up when having a stroke. That mental note would come in handy. Thanks to Katie’s quick thinking, Christa was rushed to the hospital where doctors were able to stabilize her.
Strokes occur when a blood vessel to the brain is blocked or bursts open. When this happens, parts of the brain are deprived of oxygen and begin dying after just a few minutes. Strokes typically occur in people 60 or older.
Considering Christa is only 45, she had no idea that a stroke was even a real possibility. Thankfully her daughter knew exactly what to look for and reacted quickly. Doctors are urging everyone to learn the symptoms of a stroke so they can act quickly, just like Katie did.
The mnemonic device for what to look for in a stroke is FAST. F stands for facial drooping, which typically happens to one side of the face. The A stands for arm weakness, or the inability to raise the arm above one’s head. S stands for speech difficulties, like the kind Christa suffered. And the T stands for time, meaning a person should act quickly because time is of the essence during a stroke.
This is important for all people to know because strokes are happening in younger and younger people. It was typically something that only happened to elderly people, but doctors are seeing more strokes in young people, even as young as 18.
The reasons for this are varied, but strokes in young people are related to hypertension, high cholesterol, diabetes, tobacco use, and obesity. Because these young people don’t regularly see a doctor, they may have no idea they have high blood pressure and are at risk for a stroke. It’s only after one occurs that many people realize they have something wrong with their body.
In order to reduce your chances of a stroke, doctors recommend routine exercise, quitting tobacco, managing your weight, and regularly seeing your doctor. Considering strokes are the fifth-leading cause of death in the United States, it is important to do everything possible to reduce your chances of having one.