Early Detection and Life Saving Treatment Saves Local Man
Chris McGrath, 63, of Cleveland, was having a normal day when he showed up at his alma mater, Villa Angela-St. Joseph, to volunteer at a high school sports banquet.
Within minutes of arriving and getting ready to serve refreshments to students and parents, he felt a strange tingling sensation in his fingers and needed to sit down. “I dropped my bottle of water and couldn’t pick it back up,” said McGrath.
His friend and fellow alum, Jim Tobin, a retired Willowick fireman and EMT, quickly realized McGrath wasn't himself and could be having a stroke. “I just remember Jim saying we have to go now,” said McGrath. Tobin rushed him across the street to Euclid Hospital where a Stroke Team of at least 10 doctors, nurses and specialists were ready to assess his condition.
Euclid Hospital is an Advanced Primary Stroke Center certified by The Joint Commission. According to Barbara Jordan, DO, leader of Euclid Hospital’s Stroke Team, “this means we use advanced technology and innovative treatment options to diagnose and treat stroke patients quickly—significantly improving their health and recovery time.”
This fall, Euclid Hospital also received the American Heart Association’s Get With the Guidelines - Stroke Silver Plus Quality Achievement Award and was named a Target: Stroke Honor Roll recipient.
McGrath’s doctors quickly determined he had a blockage in his brain and needed the life-saving tPA drug to dissolve the clot and improve blood flow to the part of his brain being deprived of blood flow. tPA made recent news when a Texas football coach suffered a stroke on the field and later received the same treatment.
While laying in Euclid Hospital's intensive care unit, McGrath couldn't help but think of his father who had suffered a stroke nearly 30 years ago, at the very same age. “I remembered how my father had clenched fists and needed a cane in order to walk after his stroke,” said McGrath. He wondered what his own quality of life would be now. “tPA stopped that from happening to me too,” he said. “Everyone at the hospital took great care of me, the nurses even checked on me every 30 minutes throughout that first night to make sure I didn't have another stroke like my dad did. I’m so grateful for everything they did for me.”
According to Dr. Jordan, “It is really important for us to educate our community on the symptoms of stroke. Getting to the hospital quickly is of the utmost importance in order to limit disability and prevent death due to stroke. In this case, Mr. McGrath was fortunate to have a friend with him who recognized his symptoms and took immediate action.”
The American Stroke Association recommends the acronym FAST - an easy way to remember the signs of stroke and what to do if you think a stroke has occurred. The most important is to immediately call 9-1-1 for emergency assistance.
FAST stands for:
• (F)ACE. Ask the person to smile. Check to see if one side of the face droops.
• (A)RMS. Ask the person to raise both arms. See if one arm drifts downward.
• (S)PEECH. Ask the person to repeat a simple sentence. Check to see if words are slurred and if the sentence is repeated correctly.
• (T)IME. If a person shows any of these symptoms, time is essential. It is important to get to the hospital as quickly as possible. Call 9-1-1. Act FAST.
Just two days after his stroke, McGrath was able to leave the hospital. After some therapy sessions and encouragement from his doctors to take his blood pressure medicine as prescribed, McGrath is back to enjoying life. He loves volunteering with his high school, parish council, Eucharistic ministry and community block watch. “My main reason for wanting to be healthy is to spend time with my two grandchildren. My wife and I enjoy every minute of them,” he said.
Now McGrath and Tobin hope to spread the message of educating others on the importance of knowing the risk factors and warning signs of stroke, and how crucial it is to seek medical treatment immediately.