Joseph Keith Young recalls waking up on a Saturday morning with a tingling sensation in his left arm. After Young tried to turn himself over, he attempted to stand and fell to the floor. Young’s wife, Shirley, who is a retired nurse, realized he was having a stroke and called an ambulance to take him to Forrest General Hospital. The hospital’s Primary Certified Stroke Center is known for providing high-quality care and is the recipient of the American Heart Association’s quality award for stroke care.
“As soon as I was rolled in to the hospital, I heard them say, ‘The stroke patient is here.’ They immediately started working on me, running an IV, and doing different tests. Then they rushed me back for the CT scan,” said Young.
According to Keith Jones, MD, medical director of Forrest General’s Stroke Center, Young had suffered a “wake up stroke.” Typically, physicians consider using the clot buster known as TPA to treat acute strokes. Because Young had stroke symptoms upon awakening from sleep, there was no way of knowing for sure when the symptoms may have started. It is only appropriate to use TPA within a 4.5 hour window after the patient’s last known well time, so Young did not meet the criteria for TPA. The patient also did not meet criteria for endovascular removal of the clot causing his stroke with a procedure similar to a heart catheterization. However, according to Jones, both of these acute rescue treatments should be considered for all patients suffering from an acute stroke.
By the time Young arrived at the hospital, his facial weakness, left body weakness and slurred speech improved to near normal prior to arriving at the hospital via ambulance.
“Mr. Young was admitted to the stroke unit for close observation and workup to determine the cause of his stroke. Detailed management is imperative to prevent stroke-related complications. Determining the cause of a stroke helps physicians individualize treatment plans with the goal of preventing worsening of neurological symptoms and recurrent strokes,” said Jones.
After noticing the sudden worsening of Young’s speech and significant weakness in his left body during evaluation the following morning, Krista Nix, a speech language pathologist, immediately called Young’s hospitalist, Akram Dera, MD.
“I am very proud of Krista’s prompt recognition of patient’s acute worsening and her emergently notifying Dr. Dera, who immediately met me at the bedside. Mr. Young was suspected to have a stroke with fluctuating symptoms related to seemingly minor spontaneous reductions in his blood pressure,” said Jones.
After receiving treatment, Young’s neurological symptoms improved to a near normal state.
Young said, “Dr. Jones just made a call down to the MRI, and said, ‘Have it ready. I’m coming with him now.’ He brought me himself. He actually pushed the bed down to the elevator. I was extremely pleased with how quickly Dr. Jones took control of this thing. At that point, I realized that I had really solid professional care and to see this at Forrest General was great.”
The MRI revealed that Young had suffered a stroke. Jones’ treatment plan included ways to prevent another stroke, such as lowering Young’s low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol.
“He knew how to handle my situation; nothing was throwing him off at all. The next day, he came in and told me about the goals he had to prevent another stroke. One of them was dropping my LDL down low. He laid a road map out for me and that helped me as a patient,” said Young.
Forrest General is committed to providing the most appropriate stroke treatment according to nationally recognized, research-based guidelines based on the latest scientific evidence. Because of this high level of quality care, the hospital was recently presented with the American Heart Association’s Get With The Guidelines®–Stroke Gold Plus Quality Achievement Award with Target: StrokeSM Honor Roll to recognize its achievement.
According to Dr. Jones, “Acute rescue therapies get most of the attention in the media for stroke treatment, and these are critical items in the care of an increasing number of patients suffering from stroke. However, the detailed monitoring of and precise management of patients during and after admission often can have significant impacts on the functionality and quality of life for our stroke survivors. I am very proud of the medical staff, the nursing staff, and other supporting specialists at Forrest General Hospital for greatly improving the care of stroke patients in Hattiesburg and the surrounding areas.”
It has been two months since Young was rushed to the hospital. His LDL was noted as 120 during his stay in the hospital and is now down to 54. He has returned to work and his regular lifestyle, with a few changes to prevent future strokes.
“A stroke is a scary thing in the sense that you never know when another one might happen. It keeps me diligent about doing what I’m supposed to do in terms of exercise and my diet,” said Young.
According to the American Heart Association and the American Stroke Association, stroke is the No. 5 cause of death and a leading cause of adult disability in the United States. On average, someone in the U.S. suffers a stroke every 40 seconds, someone dies of a stroke every four minutes, and nearly 800,000 people suffer a new or recurrent stroke each year.
For more information about stroke signs and symptoms or stroke care at Forrest General, visit forrestgeneral.com/stroke.