After being sidelined by foot surgery, 46-year-old Kim Bradshaw happily returned to work with her WakeMed "family" - the cardiologists and staff of the WakeMed Heart Center. She knew she worked with a great team. That respect deepened when her status unexpectedly changed from coworker to patient.
A break gave Kim time to sit down and prepare for the next case. "I leaned over to loosen the caste on my leg," said Kim. Her world changed when she sat up.
Kim's coworkers noticed that she suddenly garbled her words, and the left side of her face drooped. "I was lucky I was in the room with people with peripheral vascular specialists," said Kim. "Whether I wanted to believe it or not, they knew I had a problem."
When Heart Center manager Kim Wooten, RN, learned about Kim's episode, she brought a wheelchair to the area and took her for testing. While en route, Kim's symptoms returned, and her manager took her straight to the Emergency Department.
By the time Kim was in the Emergency Department (ED), Dr. Sachar, a cardiologist and Kim's coworker, had learned of her decline and appeared at her side. Tests by the WakeMed Stroke Team revealed that blood clots had traveled to her brain. To dissolve the clots, the team administered a medication called tissue plasminogen activator (tPA). When administered within a few hours after the onset of stroke symptoms, tPA can decrease and even eliminate the often life-altering side effects of stroke.
The team's quick work translated into a full recovery for Kim, but Dr. Sachar wasn't satisfied. Additional testing revealed that Kim had a hole in her heart - a birth defect. When a clot travels through the cardiovascular system, it passes through the hole and goes to the brain, causing a stroke. When a hole in the heart is not present, the clot will stop in a lung and cause a pulmonary embolism or in the heart and cause a heart attack.
Kim's hospital stay for stroke testing, treatment and recovery was just four days. She returned to work in less than two weeks. Later, Kim had the minimally invasive procedure to close the hole in her heart right in one of the catheterization labs where she works. Two weeks after her heart procedure, Kim was back to her important duties at WakeMed Heart Center and as mom to 9-year-old Caleigh.
"I was so lucky," said Kim. "I was in the right place and the right hands."
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