Providers of stroke care will tell you that “Time is Brain.” That means it’s vital to restore blood flow as quickly as possible to reverse or diminish the damage caused by a stroke. Unfortunately, fewer than one in five people who have had a stroke arrive at a hospital that has a stroke center within the ideal therapeutic window. That’s largely why, in spite of remarkable treatment advancements, stroke remains one of the country’s leading causes of death and disability.
Stroke survivor Robert Schilling, age 64, advises anyone who suspects a stroke to get help right away. During a home improvement project, he suddenly found himself “feeling strange.” He couldn’t use his right hand and his wife noticed a drooping facial expression.
“I knew right away something was wrong,” he relates. “We called the paramedics and they arrived at my house fast—in about three minutes. After stabilizing me, one of the attendants asked what hospital I wanted to go to. I told him St. Joseph Hospital, he said ‘Good choice,’ and we were on our way to the Emergency Room.”
After immediate and thorough testing, Robert was treated for two issues. He received a stent to open his narrowed carotid artery (located in the neck). A clot-busting drug was administered directly to a small, blocked vessel in his brain. “By the time I left the procedural room I was able to raise my arm again. I was awake the whole time, and the doctors were very good about telling me what was going on,” he recalls.
Six weeks later, Robert feels good. “I’d say I’m 99.9 percent recovered,” he says. “I’ve started playing golf again.”