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September 8, 2022

A news anchor suddenly could 'not speak the words' on the teleprompter. Her coworkers immediately called 911.

Daily Briefing
    Editor's note: This popular story from the Daily Briefing's archives was republished on Mar. 8, 2023.

    After Julie Chin—a television news anchor in Oklahoma—started experiencing stroke-like symptoms "out of nowhere" during a live broadcast, her coworkers realized she was having a medical emergency and immediately called 911.

    A news anchor suddenly exhibited stroke-like symptoms on air

    During the middle of a Saturday morning broadcast, Tulsa news anchor Julie Chin suddenly experienced vision loss in one eye. Then, she noticed that one of her arms started to feel numb. Finally, when she tried to speak, she was unable to say the words on the teleprompter.

    She tried to stumble through the words, but she appeared confused as she tried to finish the broadcast.

    "I'm sorry," Chin said during the live broadcast, "Something is going on with me this morning, and I apologize to everybody."

    Then, the cameras cut to a meteorologist. Her coworkers recognized her symptoms—and immediately called 911.

    The next day, Chin announced in a Facebook post that doctors believe she had experienced the "beginnings of a stroke."

    While Chin said she felt great before the broadcast, "things started to happen" several minutes after it began. Initially, she experienced a change in vision and numbness in her hand and arm.

    "Then, I knew I was in big trouble when my mouth would not speak the words that were right in front of me on the teleprompter," she wrote.

    "If you were watching Saturday morning, you know how desperately I tried to steer the show forward,'' Chin wrote in the post, "but the words just wouldn't come."

    "The episode seemed to have come out of nowhere," she explained, noting that her test results have "come back great."

    "There are still lots of questions, and lots to follow up on, but the bottom line is I should be just fine," she explained. "In a few days, I'll be back at the desk sharing the stories I love with the community I love," she added. "Thank you all for loving me and supporting me so well."

    What you need to know about strokes

    According to CDC, more than 795,000 people in the United States have a stroke each year, which translates to roughly one stroke every 40 seconds and one stroke-related death every three and a half minutes.

    Strokes typically occur when blood flow to the brain is cut off, or when a blood vessel bursts or leaks and affects a person's brain tissue, according to the Mayo Clinic. Stroke symptoms can include difficulty speaking, headaches, or difficulty balancing and walking. In addition, if a person's face starts drooping and they cannot smile or lift their arms, they should immediately seek medical attention.

    According to Neil Schwartz, director of the Young Stroke Program at the Stanford Stroke Center, Chin might have experienced a transient ischemic attack (TIA), which has symptoms that can mirror a stroke.

    "We consider T.I.A. a medical emergency just like we would in a stroke," Schwartz said. "It gives doctors the possibility of intervening before somebody would actually develop a stroke."

    Schwartz praised Chin for seeking medical attention so quickly. According to Schwartz, there is a short window of time for certain stroke treatments.

    Experts have created the acronym "B.E.F.A.S.T." to help people remember the symptoms they needed to look for, which include balance issues, changes in eyesight, a drooping face, weakness in the arm, and slurring speech. The final letter in the acronym stands for time, urging individuals to seek medical attention as quickly as possible.

    "When people have strokelike symptoms, we don't want them to go back to sleep or wait until Monday to tell their doctor," Schwartz said. "It's better to err on the side of caution." (Mark, Washington Post, 9/6; Oxenden, New York Times, 9/7)

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