Clot-Busting Drug Helps Save Stroke Patient’s Life
HATTIESBURG, Miss. – (May 15, 2014) Wesley “Lance” Stotler has a lot to be thankful for – a great career, loving family and God for giving him a second chance at life.
“The Lord has been with me and my family. He reached out his hand and the doctors and nurses at Forrest General healed me,” said Stotler.
The husband, father of three and assistant manager at the Highway 49 Walmart in Hattiesburg, MS says he was at work talking with other members of management when he noticed he could hardly speak.
“It was scary! My speech was deteriorating to the point where I could not enunciate my words,” said Stotler.
Stotler said he called his wife. He then called his friend of more than 30 years, Hattiesburg Neurologist Kevin Cole, M.D. Stotler said Cole told him to hang up the phone and dial 9-1-1.
After arriving at Forrest General via ambulance, Stotler was triaged by the emergency room staff into the acute stroke protocol. Scott Lynn, M.D., the on-call neurologist, was consulted and informed Stotler he had symptoms consistent with an ongoing stroke.
Lynn told Stotler about a possible treatment option, the clot-busting drug called tissue plasminogen activator (tPA). The drug can reduce long-term disability for the most common type of stroke and is the only FDA-approved medication for the treatment of stroke if given within three hours of the start of symptoms.
“Dr. John Uhl and the emergency room nurses did an excellent job in evaluating Mr. Stotler. He received prompt diagnostic testing, and I was contacted after it had been completed. We only have a 3 hour window from the onset of symptoms to use tPA within the FDA approved protocol, so quick work in the ER is very important,” said Lynn. “When I arrived to evaluate Mr. Stotler, I was able to evaluate him efficiently and discuss the risks and benefits of the therapy with him. After that discussion, he elected to proceed with treatment.”
“It was a chance I had to take. I knew I would either have a good prognosis, the drug wouldn’t do anything or it would kill me. I didn’t want to put my family through the long drawn out process of a stroke aftermath, so I went with the medicine,” said Stotler. “Before the medicine was injected, I could tell my face was very weak. By the time the injection took place, you could tell my speech was improving.”
Since tPA dissolves blood clots, Stotler also knew there was a risk of hemorrhage with its use. However, he did not let that discourage him.
“Mr. Stotler did extremely well. He tolerated his tPA infusion and seemed to notice a difference in his speech pattern very quickly. By the next morning, his neurological examination was normal. Furthermore, his diagnostic MRI imaging did not show any evidence of brain damage, suggesting that he had made a complete recovery,” said Lynn. “While all patients do not have the same response as Mr. Stotler, his activation of the ambulance service, expedited triage and evaluation by the ER team, and inpatient care by doctors and nurses all led to an excellent result.”
This May, Stroke Awareness Month, Stotler is honoring the memory of his late grandmother. She had a massive stroke in the 1980’s and suffered from the effects of it for eight years. Stotler said he realizes how important it is for people to be aware of the many risk factors associated with stroke including high blood pressure, diabetes, smoking and obesity.
“I’ve gone from over 400 pounds to 331 pounds in seven months. I have to control my blood pressure. I get blood work done every six months to check my cholesterol, and it’s been in the good range,” said Stotler.
When it comes to recognizing the warning signs and symptoms of a stroke, Forrest General reminds everyone to Act FAST!
- Face – Sudden weakness or numbness of the face
- Arm – Sudden weakness or numbness on one side
- Speech – Sudden inability to speak clearly
- Time – What time did the symptoms start?
Forrest General’s Stroke Care Center is certified by Det Norske Veritas (DNV) Healthcare, Incorporated, one of the world’s leading accreditation companies, as an Advanced Primary Stroke Center.
In 2014, Forrest General ranks in the Top 100 hospitals nationwide for Patient Safety in Stroke Care, according to CareChex®, a division of COMPARION, an independent company recognizing the nation’s best performers on various measures of quality relating to process of care, outcomes, and patient satisfaction.
While Stotler prays for a speedy four to six week recovery, he said he can’t wait to get back to doing what he loves most – swimming, reading, online gaming and spending quality time with his friends and family.