When Stroke Became a Family Affair, Emory Was Ready to Help

In 2015, when Tiffany’s 52-year-old sister had a massive stroke, she went looking to find the best possible care. And when she came to Emory Healthcare, she knew she had found it.

“I remember asking one of the doctors there why I should bring my sister to Emory,” says Tiffany. “He said, ‘Well, there are doctors who read books and there are doctors who write books. We have the doctors who write books.’”

That was all Tiffany needed to hear to move her sister to Emory. And although she didn’t know it at the time, the research she did on her sister’s behalf would benefit her personally five years later when she had a stroke herself. Tiffany was young and had no known risk factors. She needed help, so she turned to Emory Stroke Center once again.

Finding Answers at Emory

Stroke is a medical emergency that happens when blood is prevented from reaching the brain. Because brain cells require oxygen and nutrients from blood to survive, they can quickly die if they don’t get it. Depending on the part of the brain affected, this can result in problems with movement, memory, speech, vision and more.

“Emory’s Stroke Center is a comprehensive stroke center that can provide the highest level of care for any stroke-related issue,” says Fadi Nahab, MD, stroke quality director at Emory Healthcare.

In Tiffany’s case, she needed care for the immediate effects of her stroke, and to help her determine why she had the stroke, so she could work to prevent another stroke in the future.

“I had a unique case in that I was 44 and having a stroke,” Tiffany says. “I’m young and healthy. No issues. No diabetes or anything like that. I needed someone who was going to be really persistent about figuring out what caused my stroke. I chose Dr. Nahab because he’s the best.”

The Highest Level of Stroke Care

With dedicated stroke teams onsite around the clock, Emory is prepared to help people experiencing a stroke from the moment they enter our doors.

Emory University Hospital Stroke Center’s designation as a comprehensive stroke center comes from The Joint Commission and the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association. It signifies we have the expertise and technology to treat all types of stroke, including the most complex, efficiently and effectively.

Quick treatment begins with a quick diagnosis. Using the most advanced imaging tests available, we can identify the type, location and severity of a stroke. This information, along with the patient’s age and overall health, is essential when determining the best treatment.

Certain medications, if given in a timely manner, may safely dissolve blood clots causing an ischemic stroke, while other drugs may help minimize stroke-related damage. For hemorrhagic strokes, which occur when a blood vessel bursts, surgery may be recommended to stop bleeding in the brain or address an arteriovenous malformation (AVM) — an abnormal connection between veins and arteries in the brain — that can sometimes be the cause of a stroke.

Emory also has several highly experienced interventional neuroradiologists on staff. They’re recognized leaders in minimally invasive procedures that treat or aim to prevent a stroke from inside the body with tools passed through a blood vessel.

Personalized Care Focused on Recovery

After immediate treatment, attention shifts to rehabilitation and recovery. Through physical, occupational and speech therapy, as well as counseling, education, support groups and other specialty programs, we work to help patients increase their independence and live as fully as possible.

We offer inpatient and outpatient rehabilitation and long-term follow-up to help patients and their families cope and adjust. Through our outpatient clinic, we also evaluate patients’ potential for additional strokes and help them take steps to reduce their risk, something that was crucial in Tiffany’s case.

“Recovery is different for everyone,” says Dr. Nahab. “The most important thing is supporting each and every patient in their journey.”

With multiple specialists involved in each patient’s care, Emory does that and helps people achieve the best possible outcome by providing thoughtful, personalized attention.

An Excellent Prognosis

Today, Tiffany is doing well. She’s grateful for the diligent care she received and for getting her life back. “Having doctors and nurses who can give you support during that process is critical and I got all that,” Tiffany says.

Although she still has occasional memory issues and problems finding the right words, she says she’s 98 percent herself and feels amazing physically.

“Tiffany’s prognosis is excellent,” says Dr. Nahab. “Because we identified the underlying cause of her stroke, we are able to provide optimal treatment to prevent a future stroke. Even her cognitive issues are continuing to improve week by week.”

“Emory has been not only good to me as a patient but good to my family,” she says. “I’m an Emory fan.”

To make an appointment and for more information about Emory Stroke Center, visit emoryhealthcare.org/stroke or call 404-778-5770.

Emory Brain Health Center

The Emory Brain Health Center uniquely integrates neurology, neurosurgery, psychiatry and behavioral sciences, rehabilitation medicine and sleep medicine and transforms patient-centered care for brain and spinal cord conditions through research and discovery.

Bringing these specialties together allows more than 400 researchers and clinicians from different areas to collaborate to predict, prevent, treat or cure devastating diseases and disorders of the brain more rapidly. These collaborations are demonstrated in numerous centers and programs across the Brain Health Center, including the Epilepsy Center, Pituitary Center, Stroke Center, Treatment-Resistant Depression Program and Veterans Program.

Emory’s multidisciplinary approach is transforming the world’s understanding of the vast frontiers of the brain, harnessing imagination and discovery to address 21st century challenges.

Learn more about comprehensive, diagnostic and innovative treatment options at the Emory Brain Health Center.

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