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Healthwise: tPA Stroke Treatment

January 12, 2011

Mary Bullock can speak now, even identify pictures on a page. Less than a year ago it was a very different story. She was a patient at Martha Jefferson suffering from a stroke and fighting for her life.

“I could hear them setting up the emergency room for my injury,” said Mary Bullock, Stroke Survivor.

Martha Jefferson doctors preparing to give her a tPA injection. tPA stands for Tissue Plasminogen Activator. It is a drug that reverses a stroke, which is simply a blockage in the blood vessel that reduces blood flow to the brain.

“tPA targets the area of the blood clot and it is actually able to dissolve it, “said Dr. Alex Grunsfeld.

tPA only works if stroke patients get it quickly. In Bullock's case, she had her dose within a couple of hours of having her stroke.

“The shot saved my life,” said Bullock.

“Very soon - by 24 hours - we saw significant improvement and now she can talk really well. She has occasional mild word finding difficulties when she gets tired, but overall her speech is back to normal. And that's a great success,” said Grunsfeld.

For Bullock, getting her speech back was the number one priority, but she still had just one more small request.

“My main thing, I was wondering if I could play bridge again. My bridge game is excellent by the way,” said Bullock.

An awesome bridge player and a stroke survivor. She credits her doctors and the tPA shot with helping her get back to normal.

On average Martha Jefferson Hospital uses the tPA treatment about twice a month.

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