TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — A pastor’s quick actions after noticing the signs of a stroke are the reason why his wife is alive today.

In an emergency situation when every second counts, knowing the signs and symptoms of a stroke are critical and that’s why one South Tampa pastor was able to save his wife’s life.

Cindy and Bernie Lieving love spending time together, but lately typical daily tasks like preparing meals for dinner mean even more. 

Bernie Lieving is a pastor and the two were in a church service when everything changed. 

“When I turned back around to face the front, the room was spinning so badly,” said Cindy Lieving. “It was spinning so badly, and I couldn’t make sense of up or down.”

Bernie knew something was off right away. Cindy was showing acute signs of a stroke.

“Her blood pressure was 193 over 95 and we knew we had to go to the ER now,” exclaimed Bernie Lieving.

Cindy was rushed to Tampa General Hospital immediately. 

Dr. David Z. Rose is a neurologist at Tampa General Hospital and USF Health. He says knowing the signs and symptoms of a stroke are critical.

Rose recommends calling 911 immediately because every minute that passes can determine whether a patient is able to survive the stroke and the following impact on their quality of life.

“Every minute we’re saving three weeks of life,” said Rose. “Every hour, we’re saving them years of their life. That’s why stroke is a medical emergency.”

Stroke is a disease that affects the arteries leading to and within the brain.

According to the American Stroke Association, stroke is the fifth cause of death and a leading cause of disability in the United States.

A stroke occurs when a blood vessel that carries oxygen and nutrients to the brain is either blocked by a clot or bursts (or ruptures). When that happens, part of the brain cannot get the blood (and oxygen) it needs, so it and brain cells die.

Rose says the sooner a patient is treated the better the outcome will be.

“A lot of people are living with stroke, living longer with stroke, but they’re still pretty disabled,” Dr. Rose said.