Quick thinking and tPA
Springtime had arrived, and after a long, cold winter, Betsy Ann Lee, a 70-year-old Scottsville resident, was happy to get outside and enjoy a fish fry with the family. A few moments into the meal, however, she noticed something was wrong.
“It was like something had blown into my eye and started burning. I rubbed it, and as I did that, my other eye started burning,” recalled Betsy Ann. “Within seconds, both my eyes and my sinuses felt as if I’d sniffed red pepper.”
People’s voices started sounding distant, and Betsy Ann realized her face felt “wrong.” (Later she learned that it was drooping, one of the key signs of a stroke.) Betsy Ann lost feeling in her left side.
Within an hour of her first signs of stroke, Betsy Ann was at Sentara Martha Jefferson Hospital, surrounded by a team of doctors and nurses. After confirming that she had, indeed, had a stroke, the doctors administered intravenous tPA (tissue plasminogen activator), one of the most effective treatments for ischemic stroke. It is important to administer tPA within four and a half hours of the onset of ischemic stroke symptoms, and fortunately Betsy Ann arrived at the hospital in plenty of time.
“The next night I could move my hand and foot some,” Betsy Ann said. “Soon after, I was talking a bit better as well.”
After a few days in the Stroke Unit at Sentara Martha Jefferson, Betsy Ann spent time in an inpatient rehabilitation facility and then continued with outpatient rehab visits until she could get around without a walker. Within a month of her stroke, Betsy was back to work as a companion and caregiver.
“You have to be quick when you have a stroke,” Betsy Ann remarked. “I asked the nurse what would have happened without the tPA, and she said I would have been paralyzed. I’m lucky I came to Sentara Martha Jefferson quickly and got the medicine I needed fast.”