Mississippians suffer from strokes in greater numbers than any other state according to medical experts.
Irene Williams is a supervisor at a medical clinic in Jackson. Some years ago, when she noticed her mother's mouth drooping and her eyes glazed in church, she rushed her to the hospital.
"It took a least another two hours before she had the stroke. She lost bodily functions but she was still able to communicate with us," said Williams.
Williams' mother was bleeding in the brain, but wasn't in pain. Her mother lost mobility. But with emergency treatment, therapy and determination, her mother was walking within two weeks. Williams says her brother suffered a stroke and is bedridden. Her sister had one that left her with a limp and reduced cognitive ability. Dr. Chad Washington is a brain surgeon at the University of Mississippi Medical Center.
"Not every stroke is the same and not every person is equally effected by a stroke. So it depend which part of the brain has been affected," said Washington.
Washington says 8,000 Mississippians have a stroke each year and about 1,000 die. He says smoking is a big factor along with high blood pressure and high cholesterol. Dr. Rick DeShazo, a professor of medicine at UMMC says over half of Mississippians who have high blood pressure don't know they do and aren't taking medicine.
"Once you get high blood pressure you have it the rest of your life and you need to be on blood pressure medicine every day," said DeShazo.
DeShazo says getting to the hospital quickly can reduce complications from strokes. He says the symptoms include weakness or tingling on one side, trouble speaking and facial drooping. DeShazo says keeping diabetes under control, maintaining a normal weight and blood pressure reduces the risk. May is Stroke Awareness Month.
Williams' mother Mrs. Gertrude Johnson was in her 50's when she had a stroke. She celebrated her 87th birthday, April 9, 2018.