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Mini-stroke doesn’t mean mini- problem

By: Leslie Massey, leslie.massey@gazette.com
May 20, 2016 Updated: July 7, 2016 at 11:36 am
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Because of complications from high blood pressure, Mary Guinn was already in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) at St. Thomas More Hospital in Canon City, when she had her first stroke.

“I was supposed to go home the next day. It happened in the middle of the night,” she said.  “The nurse came in and was trying to get me out of bed but I couldn’t stand, and I told her ‘I think I’ve had a stroke.’”

The nurse wasn’t convinced, but an MRI confirmed that Guinn had indeed suffered a stroke.  Her doctor at St. Thomas More transferred her right away to Penrose Hospital, part of Penrose-St. Francis Health Services in Colorado Springs.

Penrose-St. Francis Health Services provides 24/7 advanced stroke treatment and was named a certified Advanced Primary Stroke Center by The Joint Commission. Penrose-St. Francis is part of Centura Health, the region’s leading healthcare network.

“The team at Penrose put me on a few different medications,” Guinn said. “I stayed at Penrose for about a week and was doing occupational therapy, physical therapy and speech therapy. I regained most of my mobility before going home, and continued doing the activities at home that I had been doing with the therapists.” 

Her first stroke was at age 50, with another stroke striking about a year later. In between, Guinn says, she’s had several mini-strokes, or TIA’s.  A transient ischemic attack (TIA), is sometimes referred to as a warning, but also increases your risk for a future stroke. TIA’s are also caused by a clot; unlike a stroke, the blockage is transient, or temporary.

The symptoms of a TIA are the same as a stroke, but typically a TIA will resolve on its own within an hour. Nonetheless, there is no way to know whether the symptoms are temporary or permanent and whether or not there is damage depends on how long the clot is in place. Because there is no way to predict when a clot will dissolve on its own, time is still of the essence.

Recognizing her strokes are caused by blood clots and as a member of the medical field since age 22, Guinn is aware of the risks and complications related to strokes.  Her high blood pressure and a heart murmur remind her to stay attentive and pro-active about her health.

“I think I got good care at Penrose,” Guinn said. “But, at this point I think the TIA’s are something I will have to live with the rest of my life. It seems to be working out and that’s all I can ask for.”

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