Living Well: TPA Treatment Saves Stroke Patients

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. - When a stroke happens, time is everything. From the second you notice symptoms, to the minute you end up at the hospital.

"I was lucky," says Jim Swenson, who survived a stroke.

It's hard not to get emotional, if you knew all Jim has been through. He's back at Baptist Health, with his wife, who never left his side.

"The key was, Joan recognizing it right away," he explains.

At home in January, Joan called out to Jim, who was on the computer. He didn't respond, even after the second time.

"I got up evidently and my right side failed me and I just barely missed hitting my head," Jim continues.

He then fell to the floor. It was immediately clear to Joan that he was having a stroke and she called 911.

"All the stars fell in place," Jim adds.

They said the response was fast, and so was the treatment.

The next thing Jim remembered was waking up in the ICU. He couldn't talk. An MRI showed a blood clot in Jim's brain. A thrombectomy was performed to remove it.

"The big problem is it's actually fairly rare that people are able to make it to the hospital in time to have this," Jim says.

What made Jim's recovery tremendous was that he got to the hospital early enough to get the TPA (tissue plasminogen activator) clot-busting drug, which helps reverse the effects of a stroke, before undergoing a thrombectomy.

"Once we get the TPA, we start activating this process in case they don't get better," explains Dr. Whit Goodwin, Chief of Interventional Radiology.

It took Jim three days to see results.

"I was so lucky and I was so fortunate. I didn't have to relearn anything. It just all came back," he adds.

A good reminder to identify a stroke is the acronym FAST. F=facial dropping, A =arm weakness, S =speech difficulty and T= time.

Click here for more on stroke care at Baptist Health.

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