Chances are, you may have one of the risk factors for a stroke: smoker, obesity, family history of stroke, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, heart disease or diabetes. 

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, every 4 minutes someone in the U.S. dies from a stroke, and about 800,000 people have a stroke each year.

Last year, Pineville’s J.W. Ambrose was one of those people.

Ambrose had been experiencing “Afib,” or atrial fibrillation. Afib is a quivering or irregular heartbeat (arrhythmia) that can lead to blood clots, stroke, heart failure and other heart-related complications. He had been seeing cardiologist Craig Pearce, M.D., for the condition.

“Dr. Pearce told me I had a low risk for a stroke,” said Ambrose. “He said it was not a no risk, but a low risk.”

In October 2014, Ambrose went to bed and to sleep like normal. The next thing he remembers is his wife waking him.

“I guess I was making some unusual noises,” he said. “She asked me some questions and I couldn’t answer.”

Ambrose’s wife quickly summoned a neighbor who was a physician’s assistant. Together, they recognized J.W. Ambrose was exhibiting the symptoms of a stroke. A quick way to remember them is: 

F – Face Drooping

A – Arm Weakness

S –Speech difficulty

T – Time to Call 9-1-1.

Ambrose was taken to the Emergency Department of Rapides Regional Medical Center, which has been certified an Advanced Primary Stroke Center since 2009 by The Joint Commission. Rapides Regional is also the only local hospital that provides Neurosurgery Coverage 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Time is important when someone is having a stroke.  The faster they receive medical care, the better the outcome.  Just a few minutes may make the difference in saving a person’s ability to walk or eat.  The time to seek medical care is within the first three hours from the time of the first symptom of a stroke. 

Ambrose was quickly diagnosed and given a tPA shot, which is a blood-clot busting drug. After a few weeks, he was able to return to work at Billy Wood Ford in Jena, where he works as the controller.