Woman says she'll stop making fun of people taking selfies after noticing stroke symptoms in her own photos

A Michigan woman says that she’ll no longer make fun of people who take selfies after she noticed stroke symptoms in a series of snaps she took of herself — photos she now credits with saving her life.

Juanita Branch, 63, was attempting to take a photo that she could use as her new Facebook profile picture on Aug. 13. “I do it once in a blue moon for my Facebook page,” Branch told the Macomb Daily. “I can’t remember the last time I took one, maybe a year ago.” But as she reviewed the photos for her best shot, she noticed her face drooping on one side, and her lips were twisted.

“Each one got worse and I’m like, ‘What the heck is going on?’” Branch told Fox 2 Detroit.

After suffering a mini-stroke in June 2016, she knew that these photos were displaying early signs of a stroke. As she was getting ready to go to the hospital, unlocking the front door and changing her outfit, her balance started to go. When the ambulance arrived, she was losing her speech.

The selfies not only alerted her to the pressing medical issue, but they also provided a timeline for doctors.

Juanita Branch jokes that selfies saved her life. (Photo: Fox)
Juanita Branch jokes that selfies saved her life. (Photo: Fox)

At Henry Ford Macomb Hospital in Clinton Township, Branch’s physician, Jason Muir, was able to look at the time stamp of the photos and deduce that she was in the four-hour window to receive a clot-busting drug known as tPA (tissue plasminogen activator). If the drug is administered too late, it can cause bleeding on the brain.

Branch, who is currently attending physical therapy and plans to return home soon, told Fox 2 Detroit: “I’m gonna stop making fun of people who take selfies. Because that selfie literally did save my life.

Muir said this is the first case where he had a patient recognize their own symptoms. Often, it is a family member who may spot them instead.

According to the American Heart Association, someone in the U.S. suffers a stroke every 40 seconds and someone dies of a stroke every three minutes and 45 seconds. Doctors encourage everyone to remember the acronym FAST to spot the warning signs of a stroke: face drooping, arm weakness, speech difficulty, and time to call 911.

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