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Published on May 10, 2016

Strokes Don’t Announce Their Arrival

James Pinnix

James Pinnix

One day at work, Tony Moore, James Pinnix's supervisor at UNC-G, noticed that James’ speech was slurred. Then James dropped the keys to the truck they were using and he noticed that James could not see them on the ground right in front of his feet. He asked James if he was OK.

James said he was a little tired, that’s all. But as James tried to get back into the truck, he tripped and his shoe came off, then his entire right side went numb.

Because he had witnessed similar changes earlier when his grandfather had had a stroke, Tony recognized the signs of a stroke. Rather than taking James back to the office to rest a bit (as he had asked), Tony called for help right away. James was taken immediately to the Stroke Center at The Moses H. Cone Memorial Hospital.

James arrived at the Stroke Center within 30-45 minutes of showing the first signs of stroke. He was weak on one side with a near complete loss of vision. His medical team followed stroke protocol immediately, which meant evaluating the nature of the stroke and determining the best course of treatment.

“The first thing he said to me after surgery was who won the NCAA basketball game? (Duke was in the NCAA finals.) He was bright, cheerful and extroverted the next day – a near complete recovery!”

Pramod Sethi, MD, Medical Director, Cone Health Stroke Center

Dr. Pramod Sethi

Would James’ condition benefit from administration of a clot-busting medication, tPA? Would he need major vessel surgery? Luckily, a CTScan of James’ brain showed no brain hemorrhage.

James’ medical team, Dr. Pramod Sethi, Dr. Tony Deveshwar and Dr. Charles Stewart, knew they had to undo a large vessel blockage in his brain. This would require the use of a newly approved clot removal device and a procedure that meant threading the device up through James’ groin using the artery all the way into his brain. Once the device is in place, it is opened and it allows blood to go past the clot, delivering oxygen to the brain cells. The device then closes down to capture the clot, allowing it to be removed.

A Week Later, James Was Back At Work

Tony Moore

Tony Moore

“James called me a couple of days later to say he was doing fine and wondering if he could come back to work. I couldn’t believe it. I knew he had had a stroke and that it could have been fatal. James came back to work the next week ready to go and has been working ever since,” says Moore.

Time means everything in the treatment of strokes. Without oxygen, brain cells start dying and don't recover. The area around the dead brain goes to sleep and there would be increased disability and decreased quality of life.

If James supervisor hadn’t recognized the signs of stroke and acted as fast as he did, the outcome for James and his family would have been very different. There would have been more brain damage. He would have lost a great deal of his mobility. And his chances of returning to work would have been greatly decreased.

Recognizing the Signs of Stroke

James’ recovery is an excellent example of recognizing the signs, getting help fast and the benefits of advanced technology as well as the expertise and preparedness of the Stroke Center team. Before these options were available, there was a 40-50% mortality rate among people who have had a stroke.

Strokes are the leading cause for disability in the U.S. and getting help fast makes all the difference. Recent years have established that removing a clot 6-8 hours after stroke will most likely result in the patient going home. If a clot is removed within 1 of 5 hours, the patient will be more likely to be completely independent … like James.

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