Teenager saves mother's life two days after learning about stroke symptoms in school

Face drooping on one side, a weak or numb arm and slurred or garbled speech are signs an ambulance should be called as soon as possible

Katie Forster
Thursday 01 June 2017 11:23 BST
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Someone in the world has a stroke every two seconds and they occurred 152,000 times in the UK in 2016
Someone in the world has a stroke every two seconds and they occurred 152,000 times in the UK in 2016 (iStock)

Nearly six million people are killed by strokes each year – but knowing how to spot symptoms quickly can save lives.

A teenage girl in the US state of Wisconsin stepped in when her mother had a stroke, having learned what to look out for just two days previously in a school science lesson.

The acronym 'FACE' is commonly used to help people remember the symptoms of a potentially deadly brain attack.

The letters stand for: 'Face', which can appear droopy on one side and may leave the person unable to smile, 'Arms', with weakness or numbness in one arm, with the person unable to lift both at once, 'Speech', which may be slurred, garbled or completely interrupted, and 'Time' – as it's important to act as quickly as possible if a stroke is suspected.

Katie Murphy, a 14-year-old from the city of Waukesha, called an ambulance after she noticed her mother Christa Murphy's speech had become muddled.

The student remembered her science teacher had told a story to help them recognise symptoms of the serious condition.

"Her speech was all mixed up, [it didn't] make sense at all. Then I had gone back to that story, and was like: 'Maybe she's having a stroke'," Katie told local news channel WISN.

Katie Murphy saved her mother's life
Katie Murphy saved her mother's life (Screenshot from WISN TV footage)

Katie said the lesson at St John's Lutheran School had made her think it was "kind of cool and weird" that difficulty speaking could be the first signs of a stroke.

Ms Murphy, 45, told the broadcaster she couldn't believe she might be having a stroke – where the blood supply to part of the brain is cut off, or when a blood vessel supplying the brain bursts – at her age.

She said she asked Katie for help after she found she was having trouble with her daily routine, including everyday tasks such as putting toothpaste on her toothbrush.

Around 85 per cent of strokes are ischaemic, which means they are caused by a blockage or blood clot in an artery or vessel that supplies the brain with oxygen.

Someone in the world has a stroke every two seconds and they occurred 152,000 times in the UK in 2016, according to the Stroke Association.

"I tell stories constantly, I knew a story was something they would grasp onto," said Katie's teacher Beth Tomlin.

Other symptoms of stroke include sudden numbness or weakness, especially on one side of the body and in the face, arm or leg; trouble seeing in one or both eyes; and sudden confusion, dizziness or lack of coordination.

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