By Erika Z. Byrd
Stroke is the fourth-leading cause of death in the United States. It’s also a leading cause of disability. Standing by to deliver 24/7 care is the multidisciplinary stroke team at Desert Regional Medical Center. Certified as an Advanced Primary Stroke Center by The Joint Commission, the hospital also received three awards in 2014 from The American Heart Association’s Get With The Guidelines Program: A Gold Award for Stroke, a Gold-Plus Award for Heart Failure, and a Silver Award for Resuscitation.
The majority of strokes, about 85 percent, are ischemic — involving a clot blocking the brain artery. The other 15 percent are hemorrhagic — 3 percent of which are subachronid hemorrhage, caused by a ruptured aneurysm. The statistics are frightening. One in three people with a ruptured aneurysm don’t even make it to the hospital. Of those who experience a second rupture, 70 percent die.
What initially felt like “a really bad pinched neck” to Jason Cooper of Perris, California, was a ruptured aneurysm requiring advanced interventional treatment. M. Asif Taqi, MD, director of neurointervention and critical care neurology, performed an endovascular procedure to place four coils to prevent re-rupture of the aneurysm. The coils were inserted via small catheters from the groin to the brain through a blood vessel.
At 39, Cooper now has a new lease on life and, to the delight of his daughter, he quit smoking.
“It’s almost like a dream, like it didn’t even happen,” said Cooper. “I don’t have any scars and I feel fine. Dr. Taqi is a great doctor.”
For ischemic stroke, the first-line treatment is IV tPA medication to break up the clot, but it must be administered within the first 3 to 4 1/2 hours. For patients who present beyond this time frame, Dr. Taqi said, “The advancement in technology has allowed an extended window of opportunity to treat patients interventionally. We can remove the clot, restore blood flow to the brain and potentially reverse the deficits of the stroke.”
When Don Faulkner, 78, of Blythe had a stroke this past March, he was taken to his local hospital and ultimately airlifted to Desert Regional Medical Center, but he missed the window for treatment with IV tPA. Dr. Taqi and his team determined that Faulkner was an interventional candidate and performed an endovascular procedure via catheter to remove the clot from his brain. A few days later, he was discharged. Although there was some brain tissue damage, Faulkner’s speech and mobility were restored.
“I’m feeling fine now. I’m just a little tired,” he said in late May. “I went out to my garden and did a few things today. And I mowed the yard yesterday. It’s a riding mower, so it’s no big deal.”
Faulkner’s wife, Linda, said, “I believe in divine intervention. I think we were led to the right hospital and got the right doctor. Dr. Taqi helped make a miracle.”
1180 N. Indian Canyon Drive, Suite 214
Palm Springs, CA 92262