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Stroke Care: Read Andi's Story
Know the Signs, Act Quickly
Date: 9/22/2011

Medical emergencies come without warning.  You could be in a car, running errands or even at work when suddenly, your life could be in danger — whether you know it or not.

In Andi Sjamsu's case, it was a regular Sunday morning in his West Windsor home when things didn't quite feel "right."  His wife, Cynthia, noticed his slurred speech, and sensing he was experiencing a stroke, called 911.

Without any risk factors for stroke, Andi was caught off guard.  "I told her I didn't need an ambulance but I didn't know what was happening to me.  I can't imagine what would have happened if she didn't act fast.  She saved my life."

From there, a series of fast and efficient steps saved Andi's life.

Know the Signs of Stroke
Only one in every five people can detect the signs and symptoms of a stroke before it's too late.  Most people, like Andi, hope the dizziness, numbness on one side of the body or face and trouble seeing will pass--unaware that the faster you are treated, the better your result.

Stroke is often referred to as a brain "attack."  It occurs when there is a blockage of blood flow to the brain, most often caused by a clot or narrowing of the blood vessels.  When this happens, an estimated 32,000 brain cells die per second; it is an alarming rate that allows for a brief window for the most effective treatment.

Quick Diagnosis and Treatment
When Andi arrived at the RWJ Hamilton emergency department, the West Windsor-Plainsboro EMS team was already sharing information with nurses and doctors.  Upon arrival, the team responded quickly to his symptoms and began following their award-winning stroke protocol.  Tests showed he was indeed suffering a stroke from a clot affecting blood flow to the brain.

“The staff was great.  They worked well together.  I don't think I could have asked for a better outcome," says Andi.

The hospital's teleneurology program is facilitated by an immediate review of CT scans through a high-resolution camera and video conferencing by a specially-trained stroke neurologist available offsite, at all hours of the day, expediting diagnosis when minutes matter.

"The evaluation determined Andi was eligible for tissue plasminogen activator--better known as tPA--a clot-busting drug that allows patients who receive it to almost completely recover when they otherwise would be severely disabled," says Rao Pasupuletti, MD, medical director of RWJ Hamilton's stroke program. "The key is that tPA must be administered within the first three hours after the onset of symptoms."

Results Matter
Today, Andi is back to working as a marketing consultant and enjoying his wife and two teenage children.  "To see him now, you would never know he experienced such a serious medical emergency," adds Richard Heimbuch, stroke program coordinator.  "Because of his wife's quick thinking and the prompt care he received by our team, Andi left the hospital within a few days without any major deficits.  It's truly incredible.

Incorporating rehab therapies into his busy schedule, Andi is free to enjoy all of his favorite things--including Sunday mornings at home with his family. 

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