New stroke guidelines helped save this woman from debilitating effects

New stroke guidelines helped save this woman from debilitating effects

Imagine falling to the floor, not being able to get up and feeling paralyzed, but you don’t know why.

That’s exactly how 65-year-old Mary Goldrick felt when she suffered a stroke to her right side in February when she was home alone. New stroke guidelines, followed by her doctors when she arrived at the hospital, saved her life.

It seemed to be a normal morning for Mary as she strolled into her kitchen to charge her phone, but suddenly, she was on the floor.

“My phone rang, and no matter what I did, I just couldn’t seem to get up to answer it,” says Mary. “Finally, I was able to reach my phone with my left hand and called my daughter, but there was no answer. Then, I was able to get a hold of my son. He kept telling me that I was slurring my words on the phone, but I didn’t notice.”

Soon an ambulance arrived, and paramedics examined Mary. She displayed the common symptoms of a stroke, including facial drooping, weakness in her arm and slurred speech. They determined she was having a stroke and needed to be rushed to the second largest comprehensive stroke center in the state of Illinois, Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn.

When Mary arrived at the hospital, she was greeted and evaluated in the emergency room by Dr. Scott Geraghty, a neurointerventional surgeon at Advocate Christ, and his team of experts. He informed Mary and her family that she would need an emergent procedure, called a thrombectomy, to remove the blood clot that traveled from her heart to her brain in order to potentially save her life and prevent long-term damage from the stroke.

“A thrombectomy is a minimally invasive procedure where a catheter is guided up through an artery in the leg and into the brain,” says Dr. Geraghty. “Once in the brain, the clot can be removed using a specialized clot retrieval device. This type of procedure can help treat large vessel occlusions, a type of stroke that isn’t usually corrected with the use of a medicine called tissue plasminogen activator, more commonly known as tPA. This stroke intervention dramatically increases the chances of patients regaining functionality.”

Earlier this year, the American Heart Association and American Stroke Association announced a change in stroke guidelines for treating patients with acute ischemic strokes like Mary’s. The guidelines extended the window doctors could perform thrombectomies from six hours to 24 hours after the event of a stroke.

“This modification to the guidelines will change the landscape of stroke care and help so many people get back to their normal lives,” says Dr. Geraghty. “The expanded window will help lower the chances of a patient having long-term disabilities caused by their stroke.”

And that is exactly what the thrombectomy did for Mary.

“Right after the procedure, I could raise my right arm,” says Mary. “My family saw a night and day difference in my body. When I woke up the next morning, the droopiness in my face was gone. I don’t think I would have had the same recovery had Dr. Geraghty and his team not acted so quickly. My body responded so well to the thrombectomy that I didn’t even have to do therapy. Time really is of the essence for strokes.”

May is National Stroke Awareness month. Do you know your risk?

Take our Stroke Risk Assessment to estimate your chance of experiencing one and learn about the ways you could minimize it.

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About the Author

Marrison Worthington
Marrison Worthington

Marrison Worthington, health enews contributor, is a public affairs and marketing manager at Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn, Illinois. She is a graduate of Illinois State University and has several years of global corporate communications experience under her belt. Marrison loves spending her free time traveling, reading organizational development blogs, trying new cooking recipes, and playing with her golden retriever, Ari.