Recognizing signs of a stroke when every second counts

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Two famous men in entertainment both died in their early 50s after suffering a stroke - actor Luke Perry and acclaimed director John Singleton. 
Many said they were too young to have a stroke, but doctors say, that’s just not true. 

Keith Tatum was in his 40s, a US Marine Corp veteran, a husband and father of three. But three years ago, he suffered a stroke.

"Not enough rest, overweight, not exercising," he said.

FOX 2: "How was your blood pressure?"

I didn't know, I didn't go to the doctor," he said.

One morning he woke up with weakness in his left hand, he ignored it until his wife came home and drove him to the hospital. We now know that waiting is the wrong move - you need to call 911.
"They come pick you up, they are actually calling the hospital and letting us know, so we are there ready and waiting to treat you as soon as you come through the ambulance bay," said Dr. Rebecca Grysiewicz, stroke specialist Beaumont Hospital. "It is so important."

Intensive physical therapy has transformed Keith, who is getting all his movement back. It's really about retraining the brain.
"With a stroke the brain is injured, so there isn't necessarily damage to the muscles, the arm or leg," said Jill Magill, Beaumont physical therapist. "It's how the brain is controlling the arms and legs. so we're working on making that connection again and trying to improve their function."

Doctors say strokes, which is what happens when blood supply is cut off to the brain, is happening in younger patients like Keith all the time, and it's because of how we our treating our bodies. 

People being diagnosed with high blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol, people are overweight, smoking and those type of things,” said Grysiewicz.

"I think I'm in better shape than before I got sick," Keith said. "I'm running 3 to 4 miles. I'm controlling my stress better and I have a positive outlook on everything."

Beaumont Health promotes the acronym FAST (Facial drooping, Arm weakness, Speech difficulties and Time). To learn more about FAST ad FASTER, CLICK HERE.