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Stroke survivor and doctor warn people experiencing stroke symptoms to seek help

Doctors who care for stroke patients worry fear of seeking treatment for illnesses outside of COVID-19 could end lives.

The hospital can be a scary place right now for people who are worried they might catch COVID-19 if they go in with symptoms of other illnesses.    

Linda Stier kept ignoring her body's call for help. Stier said she survived a stroke during the pandemic, giving her more time with her grandchildren

"I couldn't concentrate on one thing. I kept dropping everything," Stier said. "I  dropped the shampoo bottle. I dropped the soap bottle I dropped everything. I collapsed and my husband found me." 

 She said she spent six days in the hospital.  

"You gotta go. I'm a prime example. If my husband wouldn't have found me and [we would have] said no we aren't going [to the hospital] because of COVID-19 I wouldn't be here today. You can't be afraid of not going," she said. "I knew that If I wouldn't have gotten help, I would've been dead. They went into the brain and took a very large blood clot out of my brain. I spent three days in ICU."

And doctors who care for patients like Stier worry fear of seeking treatment for illnesses outside of COVID-19 could end lives.

Dr. Yasha Kayan is an interventional neuroradiologist.  For example, he said Allina Health's Abbott Northwestern Hospital has seen a 30% drop in stroke victims during the pandemic.

"What we really need to think about is the chance of getting COVID-19 in hospitals is small and the chance of having a bad outcome if you let a stroke or heart attack go untreated is high," Kayan said. 

Kayan said people aren't having fewer strokes. They're just not seeking treatment. He said he has seen a decrease in the procedure that saved Linda's life. 

"They went into the brain and took a very large blood clot out of my brain. Spent three days in ICU," she said. 

Kayan said he used to do a few a week. A few a month. A lot of it has to do with patient fear," she said. 

Stier said she one message for people who are afraid of going to hospital. 

"Go. Go. Do not be afraid," she said. "Everybody does their very best to keep you safe."

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