Home Health & Wellness Insights from Brenda McGrane on Understanding Strokes: Recognition, Immediate Response, and Diagnosis

Insights from Brenda McGrane on Understanding Strokes: Recognition, Immediate Response, and Diagnosis

Brenda McGrane

A stroke occurs when the blood supply to part of your brain is interrupted or reduced, preventing brain tissue from getting oxygen and nutrients. Brain cells begin to die in minutes. Strokes are a medical emergency, and prompt treatment is crucial. Early action can reduce brain damage and other complications. Brenda McGrane, a seasoned cytology professional from Iowa, emphasizes the importance of immediate action in stroke situations. With her extensive experience in cell research and a focus on conditions like strokes, McGrane’s insights are invaluable in understanding and dealing with this medical emergency.

Types of Strokes

  1. Ischemic Stroke: This is the most common type of stroke. It happens when a blood clot blocks a blood vessel and stops blood from reaching a part of the brain. This blockage reduces oxygen and nutrient supply to the brain tissue in the affected area, which can cause cells to become damaged or die. The severity and effects of an ischemic stroke vary depending on the area of the brain involved and the amount of tissue affected. Prompt medical attention is crucial in treating ischemic stroke, as timely intervention can significantly improve outcomes and minimize long-term neurological damage.
  2. Hemorrhagic Stroke: This occurs when a blood vessel in the brain leaks or ruptures. This type of stroke is less common than ischemic stroke but is often more severe and has a higher mortality rate. The bleeding from the ruptured vessel causes an increase in pressure inside the skull, which can damage brain cells. The symptoms and long-term effects of a hemorrhagic stroke depend on the location of the bleeding and the amount of brain tissue affected. Immediate medical intervention is critical to manage the bleeding and reduce pressure on the brain, which can help in limiting damage and improving the chances of recovery.

Recognizing a Stroke: The F.A.S.T. Method

Recognizing the signs of a stroke and acting fast to get medical attention can save a life. Brenda McGrane strongly advocates using the F.A.S.T. method for early identification of stroke symptoms:

Face Drooping: One side of the face may droop or feel numb. Ask the person to smile to see if their smile is uneven.
Arm Weakness: One arm may feel weak or numb. Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm drift downward?
Speech Difficulty: Speech may be slurred or strange. Ask the person to repeat a simple sentence. Is the sentence repeated correctly?
Time to call 911: If someone shows any of these symptoms, even if the symptoms go away, call 911 immediately and get the person to a hospital.

Additional Symptoms

  • Sudden numbness or weakness in the face, arm, or leg, especially on one side of the body.
  • Sudden confusion, trouble speaking, or difficulty understanding speech.
  • Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes.
  • Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance, or lack of coordination.
  • Sudden severe headache with no known cause.

What to Do If Someone Is Having a Stroke

  1. Call Emergency Services Immediately: Time is crucial in a stroke. The sooner a person receives medical treatment, the better their outcome.
  2. Check the Time: Note the time when the first symptoms appeared. This information is important to healthcare providers and can affect treatment decisions.
  3. Monitor and Comfort: While waiting for emergency medical services, keep the person calm and comfortable. Do not give them anything to eat or drink.

How a Stroke is Diagnosed

Upon reaching the hospital, a stroke diagnosis involves several steps:

  • Physical Examination: The doctor will ask about symptoms and medical history. They will check blood pressure and listen to the heart.
  • Blood Tests: These can tell doctors how fast your blood clots, whether your blood sugar is too high or low, and other potential stroke risks.
  • CT Scan or MRI: These imaging tests can show hemorrhages, strokes, tumors, and other conditions within the brain.
  • Carotid Ultrasound: This test checks the carotid arteries in the neck for buildup of fatty deposits (plaque) or blockage.
  • Cerebral Angiogram: This provides a detailed look at the arteries in the brain and neck.
  • Echocardiogram: This test can find the source of clots in your heart that may have traveled to your brain.


Strokes are a serious medical emergency. Recognizing the signs of a stroke and acting quickly can significantly improve the chances of recovery. Understanding the F.A.S.T. method and knowing what to do can save lives. With her focus on cell research and improving healthcare outcomes, Brenda McGrane’s expertise is crucial in understanding and responding to strokes. Her approach emphasizes quick recognition, immediate medical attention, and thorough diagnostics, underscoring her commitment to enhancing patient care in critical conditions like strokes. Remember, in a stroke, every minute counts.


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