Francis Schultz is well-versed in remaining calm during stressful situations. The 64-year-old Jackson resident has volunteered as a first responder for more than four decades, most recently in the role of directing traffic and keeping people safe when fire or police services respond to a call. When Francis experienced his own emergency last March, he knew exactly what to do.
Over the past few years, Francis has had several transient ischemic attacks (TIAs), which are short episodes of blocked blood flow to the brain that often forecast a stroke. In March, he was eating dinner when his right hand began shaking, his speech became slurred, and the right side of his body grew weak.
“I knew it could be a stroke, so I asked my wife to call 9-1-1 as I laid my head down on the kitchen table,” recalls Francis, who has high blood pressure and diabetes—both risk factors for stroke. “While it was strange to be on the other side of the help call, it was critical to get to the hospital as quickly as possible.”
Timing is Everything
At CentraState, the stroke team begins preparing for expedited treatment before a patient even arrives at the Emergency Department. Following a call from the EMS team, a “stroke bypass” protocol clears patients to go straight to the Radiology Department for a CT scan to determine if they are candidates for tissue plasminogen activator (tPA), an IV clot-busting medication.
“Time is brain,” says Omar Nabulsi, MD, board-certified family medicine physician working in the Emergency Department, who treated Francis together with board-certified neurologist James Ware, MD. “Our multidisciplinary team works quickly and cohesively to ensure that stroke patients receive the care they need for an optimal recovery.”
Within 45 minutes to an hour of receiving tPA, Francis felt his speech and numbness improving. When his condition stabilized, he was admitted to the hospital for several days of tests and monitoring—an important part of establishing a customized treatment plan that minimizes the risk of future strokes, according to Dr. Ware. Francis is now under the regular care of endocrinologist Eric Wininger, MD, and primary care physician Paul Axelrad, MD.
“From the emergency room to my time on the stroke floor, everyone took such great care of me,” adds Francis, who suffered no stroke-related deficits. “My advice to others is to be mindful of your health and your body. Listening to what your body says and acting quickly can save your life.”
Assess Your Risk with CentraScreen
Sat., Dec.7, by appointment
Cost: $139 (not covered by insurance)
Thomas J. Blanchet Cardiac Diagnostic Center
This series of health screenings can help detect stroke and cardiovascular disease risk for men and women over age 50. To register or learn more, call 732-308-0570.