Henrietta Jones, 76, was visiting her daughter and family in Lansdale, Pennsylvania. "We were going out to dinner in Doylestown, and I felt fine," she recalls.
Her son-in-law, however, did not think she was fine. Henrietta was leaning to one side, her speech was jumbled and she could not unbuckle her seat belt, so he rushed her to Doylestown Hospital's Emergency department.
Henrietta was having an ischemic stroke. A clot was blocking a large vessel, cutting off the blood supply to a part of the brain. She was at risk for paralysis, loss of speech and more. Her life was in jeopardy.
Thanks to intra-arterial thrombectomy (IAT), a breakthrough stroke treatment available at Doylestown Health, Henrietta says, "I feel great! I'm walking, talking and can use my hands. I'm staying with my daughter while I complete physical therapy. When I'm finished, I intend to drive myself home to Delaware!"
Her treatment started with an intravenous dose of the clot busting medication tissue plasminogen activator (tPA), followed by a trip to the catheterization lab where a tiny tube and mechanical stent device were threaded through a groin artery to the blockage. Once in place, the retrievable stent was used to physically remove the clot, stopping Henrietta's stroke.
Advanced Care, Close to Home — When Seconds Matter
"Every minute the brain lacks blood flow, 1.9 million neurons (brain cells) are lost," says Steven Guidera, MD, the interventional cardiologist who performed Henrietta's IAT. "That's why it's important to have the IAT expertise and technology right in Doylestown. A patient's outcome is greatly improved when the transfer time to another facility is eliminated."
IAT's Stroke Treatment Revolution
Recent international clinical trials have demonstrated that stent retrievers (IAT), in conjunction with intravenous tPA, give patients with large vessel blockages better outcomes. "IAT is not available at all hospitals, and these stents are highly specialized for stroke treatment," says Jeffrey Gould, MD, Doylestown Health neurologist and medical director of Stroke Services.
"Patients with large vessel blockages who get IAT in addition to intravenous tPA are almost twice as likely to reach the threshold of independence used to measure stroke recovery, compared with patients who only receive intravenous tPA", notes Dr Guidera. Also, IAT presents options when tPA is slow to break a clot or cannot be used for a certain reason, such as a bleeding disorder.
Recognizing Symptoms of Stroke
Stroke symptoms depend on which area of the brain is damaged. Symptoms usually develop suddenly and without warning and may be episodic (occur and then stop) or may slowly worsen over time. It is not uncommon for a person to be unaware that he or she has had a stroke.
While stroke is a leading cause of death, few people know how to recognize the signs. The acronym B.E. F.A.S.T. is not only an easy, catchy way to remember the signs of stroke, it is a reminder that time is of the essence when stroke occurs.
B.E. F.A.S.T. stands for:
- Balance: Sudden loss of balance or coordination
- Eyes: Sudden change in vision
- Face: Sudden weakness of the face
- Arms: Sudden weakness of an arm or leg
- Speech: Sudden difficulty speaking
- Time: Note the time symptoms started
If you suspect stroke symptoms, call 9-1-1 immediately!
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About Stroke Care at Doylestown Health
Doylestown Hospital follows national guidelines that can greatly improve long-term outcomes for stroke patients. The Joint Commission awarded Doylestown Hospital with the Advanced Certification for Primary Stroke Centers in recognition of our commitment to excellence in stroke care. As part of this multidisciplinary program, Doylestown Health interventional cardiologists perform an innovative non-surgical stroke treatment for large vessel blockages through Intra-Arterial Thrombectomy (IAT) to remove a stroke-causing clot thus resolving stroke symptoms immediately.