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A Real Wake Up Call!

by Kacie K. on Friday, October 18, 2013

You’re the Cure advocate, Joe Vetter, has spent the last 12 years hearing from his wife, Betsy Vetter (NC AHA Sr. Director of Government Relations) about the risk factors and warning signs of heart attack and stroke.  What Joe could not have told you before July 29th, was just how relevant Betsy’s work at AHA was going to become to him.  But, on that day Joe had a real wake-up call and the importance of Betsy’s work was about to be realized.

That morning as Joe stepped out of the shower he went blind in both eyes.  He closed his eyes and when he reopened them he could see but he no longer had peripheral vision in his left eye.  Even though Joe didn't seem to be suffering any other symptoms, Betsy knew sudden vision loss meant something was dramatically wrong.  Turns out that Joe had suffered a series of strokes.  It was important that Joe got care quickly because time loss is brain loss when it comes to stroke.  And it is important that we all know the warning signs:

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

Making sure that NC has strong stroke systems of care helps everyone get the care they need when they need it.  This past year, You’re the Cure NC worked to pass Session Law: 2013-44 Designate Primary Stroke Centers.  This law requires the Department of Health and Human Services to designate qualified hospitals as primary stroke centers and strengthens stroke systems of care ensuring everyone will know the leading hospitals for stroke care in their area.  Joe knows that stroke can strike in an instant and change your life.  Getting to medical treatment quickly quite literally will save your life.

While Joe has always stood by Betsy in her work, now he, too is raising awareness about stroke.  Recently he joined fellow You’re the Cure advocate, Dr. Larry Goldstein, Professor of Medicine and Director of the Duke Stroke Center, for an interview on WRAL in Raleigh. Read more about Joe, Dr. Goldstein, Comprehensive Stroke Centers, and the warning signs of stroke in this article from WRAL.

And did you know that the AHA has a free APP for your mobile device to help you recognize stroke F.A.S.T (for Facial Dropping, Arm Weakness, Slurred Speech and Time)?  Simply visit your APP store to download it. Thankfully Joe is on the mend and on his way to better health.  Joe’s message to everyone is, when it comes to heart attack and stroke – know the warning signs and be an advocate with You’re the Cure – the policies you support today will help save your life or that of someone you love. 

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Comments (4)

  • Thank you so much for sharing this story!

    — Cathleen G.

  • Everyone - take it from us, learn the warning signs, be ready to respond and be an advocate.  The work we do saves lives.

    — Elizabeth V.

  • Joe- thank you for sharing our story. What a dynamic couple you and Betsy make. Together you will save many lives, no doubt.

    — Michelle N.

  • Wow - what a great story!  Important message for all.  

    — Keltcie D.

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