Albemarle Woman Has Stroke, Hairdresser Comes to the Rescue - NBC29 WVIR Charlottesville, VA News, Sports and Weather

Albemarle Woman Has Stroke, Hairdresser Comes to the Rescue

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An Albemarle County woman is speaking out about knowing the early signs of stroke.

It comes after an amazing story, when she says her hairdresser saved her life.

Hairdresser Shelley Ward says her client of 10 years, Lori Richards, looked bright and healthy when she came in for her haircut. But when her tone suddenly changed, ward snapped into action.

"I noticed that what she sounded like was different, and I looked up, it made me look up into my mirror, and I noticed that she was talking to me out of the side of her mouth," Ward said. "I immediately turned her around to me and I said, "Lori!" and she was still trying to talk to me and communicate with me but I could not understand her at all so I immediately screamed call 911 now!"

Ward knew that Richards' drooping mouth and limp arm were warning signs of a stroke, and that time was of the essence. As it turned out, Richards was suffering an ischemic stroke, caused by a clot blocking oxygen to her brain.

"Every second, every minute that goes by that the brain is deprived of that necessary oxygen is more likelihood that that part of the brain will die," said Dr. Andrew Southerland, a University of Virginia Medical Center stroke neurologist.

"I could have been in a wheelchair, I could have been in a nursing home, or I could have died. There is no good outcome to a stroke. This is a miracle," Richards said.

Richards says she shares the acronym FAST - Face, Arms, Speech, Time - to teach others the signs that saved her life.

"It takes into account those early warning signs and symptoms of stroke related to weakness of one side of the face, weakness of one arm, changes in one's speech and of the all important factor which is time," Southerland said.

On that fateful day, time and Ward's quick wit were on Richards' side.

"I look back on that day as an incredible miracle," Richards said.

The UVA Medical Center says anyone who sees any of these warning signs should call 911 immediately. Since time is key, don't wait; act fast.

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