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Are disorientation, slurred speech and a BP of 195/90 symptoms of a stroke?

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General & Family Physician
Practicing since : 1991
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mother (74 yo) woke up today disoriented and couldn't operate her right hand. she was unable to form words, and wold break down crying. when I went over herr her voice sounded as if mouth was filled w/water... or like she'd gotten numbing shots from dentist in her mouth. I checked her blood pressure it was, and still is about 195/90. I gave her atenolol (what I take), 2 aspirin, and got her back in
bed to relax.
I think a stroke. she refused to go to hospital. what should I do? thanks
Mon, 14 May 2018 in Elderly Problems
Answered by Dr. Bonnie Berger-Durnbaugh 1 hour later
Brief Answer:

Detailed Answer:
Hello -

The symptoms you described are very concerning and a stroke needs to be ruled out as soon as possible. Please tell her that there is much greater chance of improvement after a stroke the sooner it is diagnosed and treatment is started.

Strokes can be due to bleeding in the brain or from lack of oxygen to the tissues in the brain due to a clot in a blood vessel there. So the treatment is different depending on the cause. Physical therapy is started as soon as possible.

She must go to the hospital now so that she can be evaluated and treatment started depending on the cause.

Please share this information with her so that she knows how urgent it is that she go in now.

I would be happy to write further with more information but for now she needs to go in and not delay.
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Follow-up: Are disorientation, slurred speech and a BP of 195/90 symptoms of a stroke? 52 minutes later
thanks, I read to her what you wrote. She has no insurance and is afraid they will take what little money Social Security she gets every month (they might). She says maybe she'll go tomorrow (at my strong insistance)... But B.P. is even higher now! I'm really scared. I called my sister to talk to her but no answer there. I want her to go now, maybe she dies during night if not, possible?
I know from past experience hospital (Red Bluff, Ca/ St. XXXXXXX 35 mins away) is pretty useless at night/weekend- I don't want her hooked up to a bunch of machines ($$$) while doctors do nothing for hours.
Mother's voice still not good; face noticeably droopy on right side; B.P. 202/85
Thanks for the help so far, really appreciate.
Answered by Dr. Bonnie Berger-Durnbaugh 52 minutes later
Brief Answer:

Detailed Answer:
Please call the nearest good hospital and ask what they would do if she has no insurance and she is having a stroke in terms of money.

She is having a hypertensive crisis - both extremely high blood pressure that is uncontrolled and stroke symptoms. She can't wait until tomorrow. Damage is being done to her organs (kidneys, heart, brain) by having a blood pressure that high.

In the ER they can lower her blood pressure under monitoring, which is what is needed now.

And yes, she can die if not treated. And if she doesn't die, she can have damage to her organs.
Above answer was peer-reviewed by
Follow-up: Are disorientation, slurred speech and a BP of 195/90 symptoms of a stroke? 5 minutes later
We're leaving in a half hour. Thank you very much. Have a good evening.
Answered by Dr. Bonnie Berger-Durnbaugh 14 minutes later
Brief Answer:
I am relieved to hear that she will go in.

Detailed Answer:
Wishing your mom (and you) good luck. Going in is the right thing to do. Please know that in addition to lowering her blood pressure they will want imaging studies.

At least in Illinois and Wisconsin, if a patient doesn't have the money, the hospital will usually absorb the cost. I don't know how things are in California.

Thinking of your mom,
Bonnie Berger-Durnbaugh, MD

Above answer was peer-reviewed by
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