A Stroke At 35,000 Feet. What Happens Next?

When Rosanna Rizzi suddenly lost her ability to speak or to move during a flight bound for Italy, the clock started ticking.

Stroke care at Fairview Southdale Hospital

When Rosanna Rizzi suddenly lost her ability to speak or to move during a flight bound for Italy, the clock started ticking.

Every minute counts when you’re having a stroke. Minutes can mean the difference between surviving and thriving or living with potentially debilitating side effects.

Fortunately for Rosanna, her plane made an emergency landing and she was brought to Fairview Southdale Hospital, home to the new Carl N. Platou Emergency Center and our award-winning Stroke Center.

Because timing is everything, our emergency center and stroke care protocols were designed to increase the speed with which patients are evaluated and treated.

For Rosanna, that meant within 60 minutes of arriving to the hospital, emergency physician Karel Isely, and the care team assessed and diagnosed her with a blood clot in the brain.

At minute 61, neurologist Kristen Kelly-Williams began administering intravenous tissue plasminogen activator to Rosanna. This is a clot buster that begins dissolving the clot.

Shortly thereafter, Jeffrey Lassig, an interventional neuroradiologist, performed a thrombectomy, which removed the remaining clot. This restored blood flow to Rosanna’s brain.

Quick action, team work and excellence in clinical care stopped the clock on Rosanna’s medical emergency, helping her make a full recovery back to health.

“I think that everybody was terribly efficient, and very sweet and lovable also,” says Rosanna. “I think they’re all wonderful people. They’re like angels taking care of you.”

“I would like to thank all the doctors, and all the nurses, and all the people who tried very hard to save my life. They are wonderful, professional people, but also they work with their heart. I could feel that a lot. There was a lot of love in their approach to the patients.”

Learn how to recognize signs of a stroke

Time is critical to the outcome of the stroke so it’s important to know a stroke is happening. To recognize signs of a stroke, use this four-step approach with the easy-to-remember name: F.A.S.T.

Face – Try to smile. Does one side droop?

Arm – Hold up both arms. Does one arm drift down?

Speech – Try repeating a simple phrase. Unable to or slurred?

Time – Call 9-1-1 if having even one of these signs of stroke. Time is critical.

If you act F.A.S.T., it can make a big difference.

Learn more about stroke care at Fairview Southdale Hospital’s award winning Stroke Center. Lifesaving care facilities like this are made possible, in part, by generous donors to Fairview Foundation.

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