September 8, 2022 – TV news anchor Julie Chin is recovering after experiencing stroke-like symptoms live on air earlier this month. Chin, a host for NBC’s local news station KRJH in Tulsa, OK, was covering the NASA Artemis I launched when she suddenly had trouble speaking to the teleprompter or reading words.
Thanks to the quick action of her colleagues, who called 911, Chin was taken to a nearby hospital, where she underwent a battery of tests.
“First, I lost partial vision in one eye. A little later my hand and arm became numb. Then I knew I was in big trouble when my mouth didn’t say the words that were on the teleprompter right in front of me,” she wrote on Facebook the following day.
“My doctors believe I had the onset of an airborne stroke,” said Chin, who is now recovering at home.
When a news anchor becomes the news
The video of Chin struggling for words brings a lot of attention to this medical emergency. It shows how unexpectedly and quickly stroke-like symptoms can occur. It’s also a good reminder for anyone who thinks they or someone else might be having a stroke to act quickly.
“It was a scary event for her, but I think it’s a good opportunity for us at the American Heart Association to remind people what the signs of a stroke are,” says Mitchell Elkind, MD.
Larry Goldstein, MD, chair of neurology at the University of Kentucky HealthCare at Lexington, agrees.
“Anything that raises awareness is a good thing,” he says. “This event was a good example of someone experiencing language changes – although her articulation was good – she had a real word-finding problem.”
People who witness a stroke play an important role. Sometimes the person who suffers a stroke is unable to call for help, or the stroke robs them of the ability to recognize that they have a problem, says Elkind, the AHA’s chief clinical science officer.
“That’s why it’s important that friends, colleagues or even people on the street recognize the signs of a stroke.”
Remember the signs
If you suspect a stroke, remember: BEFAST stands for balance; eyes (loss of vision); face (hanging); arms (one arm drifts down); Speech (slurred or confused) and timing and terrible headache.
The AHA recommends people at least consider FAST because it’s easier to remember, although balance and eye problems can occur, Elkind says.
Goldstein says balance and eye problems can identify another 14% of people who suffer a stroke. But no matter how you remember the signs of a stroke, it’s important to act quickly, he says.
In Chin’s case, a garbled text message she sent her husband after she went off the air was another clue: “I need help. Something didn’t work today. My work will not work, my help will not work.” Alarmed, her husband rushed to meet her in the hospital.
A total of 795,000 Americans suffer a stroke each year, the CDC reports. More than 600,000 of these are first strokes. More than 150,000 Americans died from a stroke in 2019, according to the AHA 2022 Fact Sheet. That’s one stroke death every 3.5 minutes in the United States.
About 80% to 90% of strokes are preventable, so people should consider making lifestyle and other changes to reduce their risk, Goldstein recommends. . Because “when a stroke happens, it’s a catch-up race [situation].”
For people who are hesitant to see a doctor right away, Elkind points out that specialists have effective stroke treatments, but they must be administered soon after signs begin. “Don’t ignore it, that would be my recommendation.”
“If it’s something medical, if you think you need help, if something’s really wrong, don’t be afraid to ask for help,” Chin said in an interview on the Today’s show On Wednesday.
“I hope this story helps someone else,” Chin said.