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Health Team

Rex Hospital's earns certification for stroke care

Posted July 28, 2011 5:24 p.m. EDT
Updated July 28, 2011 6:37 p.m. EDT

— Rex Hospital in Raleigh recently earned certification as an Advanced Primary Stroke Center. The designation, which came from the Joint Commission, makes it a destination for stroke care, Rex neurologist Dr. Ken Carnes said. 

Vernon O'Daniel, 59, experienced that type of care first-hand when he was taken into Rex last January after showing signs of a stroke. 

While helping his wife make the bed, O'Daniel said he remembers getting dizzy and falling down. 

O'Daniel's wife, Denise, had seen a list of stroke symptoms on the Internet and began checking her husband. 

"She looked at my face, and I had a lopsided smile," O'Daniel said. "I couldn't raise my left arm, left leg." 

Doctors say anyone who develops signs of a stroke, including slurred speech, a sudden onset of dizziness and weakness on one side, should call 911 immediately.

O'Daniel's wife called 911, which began a streamlined response with Wake County EMS and Rex Hospital. 

Once arriving at Rex, a CT scan showed O'Daniel had a blood clot in his brain, which could be treated with the clot-busting drug TPA. The drug must be given within three hours of the first symptoms.

"The old saying goes, 'Time is brain,' and that really makes a difference and that's what we're trying to achieve here," Carnes said. 

O'Daniel said his quick care, including the TPA injection, was a life-saver. He avoided the problems of disability and lost brain function.

"Later that night, I was almost back to my same normal self," O'Daniel said. 

Anyone can experience a stroke, but those most at risk are people older than 65, those with hypertension, diabetes or high cholesterol and tobacco users.

A list of Advanced Primary Stroke Centers in the state

The Triangle has four Advanced Primary Stroke Centers.