Arthur, known as “Skip” to all of his friends, could tell a stroke was coming on; he had experienced one 10 years earlier. This time, however, his condition was much more critical.
His wife, Tina, immediately called 911, and he was taken to the closest hospital. In a time that was twenty minutes faster than the national standard, Skip was transferred from a local hospital to Jackson-Madison County General Hospital, which is Joint Commission certified as an Advanced Primary Stroke Center. “They were ready for him and took him immediately,” Tina remembers. “The interventional radiologist had a room full of the most talented team.”
An EKG, a CT scan and a noninvasive angiogram showed Skip was experiencing an acute basilar artery occlusion—a large blood clot was blocking blood flow to a main artery that supplies blood to the brain. Survival rates for this type of stroke are less than 10 percent. It was one of the largest clots the interventional radiologist on call had ever seen. He told Tina that Skip was experiencing the “worst of the worst” type of stroke.
While stroke is the No. 5 cause of death and the leading cause of disability in the U.S., many Americans do not think of a stroke as a major health concern. A stroke causes a loss of 1.9 million neurons every minute, so timely treatment is crucial. Skip received clot-busting medicine through an IV to slow down the damage while being prepared for a mechanical thrombectomy, a newly available procedure to remove the clot using a stent-like device. This clot removal procedure is only available at major medical facilities such as West Tennessee Heart and Vascular Center at Jackson-Madison County General Hospital.
Throughout the surgery, the stroke coordinator brought updates to Tina and their friends in the nearby waiting room.
When Skip first woke up after the surgery he could only move his head, but in less than a week, he had regained all of the movement in his limbs.
Today his memory is intact, he can talk clearly and he walks a mile by himself each day, with the assistance of a walker for added stability.
The American Heart Association/American Stroke Association’s Together to End Stroke™ initiative gains attention during May every year when West Tennessee Heart and Vascular Center and the nation highlight stroke prevention, treatment and effects.
Use the acronym F.A.S.T. to help people recognize a stroke and know what to do if one occurs:
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