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SSM Health Medical Minute – What happens after being treated for stroke?

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ST. LOUIS - Last week, Dan Gray shared his personal story of narrowly avoiding a stroke in May 2019. He was lucky. Following an interview with SSM Health neurologist Dr. Nirnajan Singh, he recalled a sudden onset of unsteadiness and loss of balance, along with profuse sweating. The next thing he knew, he had fallen to the ground.

Dr. Singh was immediately by his side to evaluate his sudden spell. Dan was at SSM Health St. Mary’s Hospital, a certified stroke center.

Stroke centers provide a group of medical professionals who specialize in stroke, working together to diagnose, treat, and provide early rehabilitation to stroke patients.

“So, I felt that I have a healthy, smart person, who has a normal baseline because I witnessed that your brain was functioning normally. He has a brief period of loss of consciousness. Two things happened -- you fell and you passed out,” Dr. Singh said.

The next step was Dr. Singh took his blood pressure to check for low blood pressure or low blood sugar. But Dan’s symptoms were not an immediate sign of stroke, rather suggested that the blood supply to the brain interrupted as Dan was able to tell Dr. Singh what he had for breakfast, about his hydration and recall where he was. Dr. Singh calls his episode, “unprovoked unconsciousness.”

Once he was taken away to the ER, the diagnostic tests began. Dan received a CT scan and MRI to determine what caused his sudden spell and to evaluate his brain activity.

Typically both tests are given.

“The heart and brain work together as a supply chain. Sometimes a person may have an abnormal heart rhythm, the heart is not beating and they can pass out from that. So whenever we look at a patient with acute stroke, we evaluate together the brain and the heart," Dr. Singh said. "We do an ultrasound of the heart to see how the blood is pumping, make sure there is no clot and, at the same time, we evaluate the brain because they work together.”

"During the process, we found that one of your arteries is critically narrow, like more than 90 percent. You may have had that for a long, long time, but it reached a critical mass.”

Following the episode and diagnosis, Dan was released into the care of Dr. Ashish Nanda, a neurointerventionalist at SSM Health St. Clare Hospital, who put a stent being in the carotid artery on the right side to open up the artery. The doctor also examined Dan's heart and arteries, and prescribed medication and follow up under the care of a cardiologist. Typically, after a stent, you take aspirin to prevent a clot in the stent. Dan was able to come back to work in about 10 days.

Since his stent, Dan Gray says he feels great. He was able to personally thank Dr. Singh for his care, attention, and for making sure he was well taken care of throughout the entire episode.

To take the Stroke Health Assessment, click here.

To learn more about stroke recovery, click here.

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