tPa Can Reduce the Amount of Disability Associated With Stroke

Deanne Stein Health Guide
  • My name is Deanne Stein. I'm a television reporter at WOWK in Charleston, West Virginia. I'm used to deadlines and writing stories on a daily basis. However, this is my first blog. When asked to contribute to this website, I didn't even know what a blog was. So, maybe this will be a learning experience for all of us.

    My goal is to give readers some insight on what happened to me and be there for anybody going through the same thing. I had my stroke in 2001. Doctors found a blood clot behind my left ear and afterward chalked it all up to "thick blood." My doctor told me my blood had the tendency to clot and my birth control pills just triggered that tendency. It wasn't that reassuring. I had only taken my birth control pills for a short time to clear up my adult acne, go figure. But, the topic of birth control and strokes I'll save for another blog. In this one, I just wanted to introduce myself and offer some background on what happened to me.
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    Now, I don't consider myself a doctor or an "expert" on anything. But, I do hope to talk to those experts and pass along any and all information I gather in my own spare time. We'll start with what saved my life. First and foremost, it was going to the emergency room on time. However, because of my age (31 at the time) it took doctors some time to figure out what was happening to me. They originally thought I had bell's palsy, a condition that causes the facial muscles to weaken or become paralyzed. It's a condition that isn't permanent and usually clears up within a year. But that wasn't what I had. After I lost movement in my right leg, doctors finally realized I was having a stroke. I eventually got the care I needed. That care began with tPA. It stands for Tissue Plasminogen Activator, a thrombolytic agent (clot-busting drug). In 1996, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the use of tPA to treat ischemic stroke in the first three hours after the start of symptoms. In my case, that's exactly what happened. During the treatment, a radiologist put a tube into the main artery in my right leg and ran it through my body to the clot itself. The end of the tube had a little camera on it and once it located my clot, tPA was sprayed on it until it dissolved. The drug also can be administered through an intravenous (IV) line in the arm.

    I consider myself lucky. tPA can not only save a person's life, like me, but reduce the amount of disability associated with a stroke. Following my stroke, I still underwent rehabilitation to regain movement in my right arm, leg and face. After six months of therapy, I am happy to report that I am 100 percent back to normal. So, I guess the most important advice I could give to anyone is to get help right away, don't delay. Don't dismiss the symptoms. It's better to be embarrassed at the ER than to risk death or paralysis.

Published On: February 02, 2006