Stroke Survivor Shares Story for Stroke Awareness Month

Platte Valley Medical Center Urges You to Know the Signs of Stroke 

150x150StrokeSurvivorPVMCNewsTrevas Stark, 60, of Brighton achieved in 44 minutes what takes most stroke patients 90 days … she began experiencing the reversal of her massive stroke symptoms, thanks to quick recognition of her symptoms and the fast action by the stroke team at Platte Valley Medical Center.

“I am a caregiver for my mom and always thought she would be the one to have a stroke; so I made sure I knew the warning signs,” says Trevas Stark. “Then on Friday morning, March 8, I had this sharp shooting headache, and my entire left side went heavy and numb. I knew I needed immediate help so I asked my mom to call 911. The ambulance was here in five minutes and took me to the emergency room where a stroke team was already waiting there for me.”

After arriving at Platte Valley Medical Center, Trevas was rapidly evaluated using the latest imaging technology. Within 30 minutes, it was determined she had suffered a serious brain attack (aka stroke). Trevas received tPA, the only FDA-approved medicine for stroke patients, 10 minutes later, and began to feel the sensation and movement return to her left arm and foot within 44 minutes.

Trevas walked out of the hospital two days after suffering a massive debilitating stroke.She spent the next two days in the Intensive Care Unit and by Sunday, March 10, was able walk out of the hospital with no assistance, no residual speech issues, and no loss of sensation. She is now driving, back to work, and moving on with her life.

“Time is absolutely crucial in the treatment of stroke, as on average, every 40 seconds someone in the United States has a stroke and every four minutes someone dies from a stroke,” said Neurologist H. Rai Kakkar, M.D.1 “The earlier a stroke is recognized and the patient receives medical attention, the greater chance of recovery.” 

231x153StrokeSurvivorEmergencyRoomPVMCNews“Trevas’s experience was amazing to witness,” explains ICU Nurse and Stroke Co-Coordinator Kelly Bergstrom, RN. “Clinically, the effectiveness of the treatment is measured at 90 days post stroke, so you can imagine how our entire staff felt to see her symptoms turn around so quickly.”

The Joint Commission, in conjunction with The American Heart Association/American Stroke Association, recently recognized Brighton’s Platte Valley Medical Center (PVMC) with Advanced Certification for Primary Stroke Centers. This achievement signifies PVMC’s dedication to fostering better outcomes for patients; fewer than 25% of Colorado hospitals are stroke certified.

“I tell my patients to remember the word FAST if a stroke is suspected,” said Neurologist H. Rai Kakkar, M.D. “F is for face – is the face drooping?; A is for arms – can you lift both arms at the same time?; S is for speech – are words slurred?, and T is for time – if you are experiencing any of these symptoms call 9-1-1 immediately and get to an emergency room.”

Knowing the six primary stroke symptoms is crucial. They include:

  • Sudden numbness or weakness on one side of the face or facial drooping
  • Sudden numbness or weakness in an arm or leg, especially on one side of the body
  • Sudden confusion, trouble speaking or understanding speech
  • Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes
  • Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination
  • Sudden severe headache with no known cause

Strokes occur when a blood vessel carrying oxygen and vital nutrients to the brain is either blocked by a clot or ruptures. When this occurs, part of the brain is deprived of blood and oxygen, destroying millions of valuable nerve cells within minutes. (1) 

“This experience changed my life, and if I can help save one person, then I feel like sharing my story was worth it,” Trevas exclaims. “If you think you are having a stroke, don’t waste any time. You should call 9-1-1 so you can get to a hospital and receive treatment as quickly as possible.” (1)

About Stroke

Stroke is a leading cause of death and serious, long-term disability in the United States. According to the American Stroke Association, approximately 795,000 people experience a new or recurrent stroke each year, and 87 percent of these are ischemic strokes. An acute ischemic stroke occurs when an obstruction, such as a blood clot, blocks blood flow to the brain. (1) The obstruction deprives the brain of blood and oxygen, destroying valuable nerve cells in the affected area within minutes. The resulting damage can lead to significant disability including paralysis, speech problems and emotional difficulties. 

Treatment may be available if you get to the emergency room immediately upon recognition of stroke symptoms. Leading a healthy lifestyle, including lowering risk factors like high blood pressure and weight, can also help reduce your stroke risk. For more information about stroke, visit www.strokeawareness.com.

About Platte Valley Medical Center

Platte Valley Medical Center in Brighton is a national top performing hospital with a mission to foster optimal health for all. PVMC has an Advanced Certification for Primary Stroke Centers, which signifies the hospital’s commitment to providing rapid access to high quality, local specialty care for time-sensitive emergencies, such as stroke and similar neurologic syndromes.

1 American Heart Association. Heart Disease and Stroke Statistics – 2011 Update. Dallas, Texas: American Heart Association; 2010.

Neurologist Rai Kakkar, M.D. (l.) and Trevas appeared on 9News to share her story. Trevas’s husband Kenny (r.) enjoyed the station tour.

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