HealthWatch: AFib and Stroke

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GREEN BAY, Wis. (WFRV) Atrial fibrillation, or AFib, is the leading cause of stroke in the US and increases a person’s risk of having a stroke by 500-percent. 
Doctors can monitor a patient for AFib after a stroke to make sure it doesn’t happen again.

For Richard and Darlene Lucka, family is everything, they have eight grandkids and “We have six wonderful kids,” Darlene Lucka said proudly. 

“Family means a lot,” said Richard Lucka, stroke survivor, Aurora BayCare Medical Center patient.

The family could have lost Richard in February, “She didn’t want to lose me I guess, I don’t know,  I was scared,” said Richard and Darlene.

Darlene woke up in the middle of the night and noticed something was wrong, “His right side was paralyzed, his eyes were rolling,” explained Darlene.

Richard had a stroke, “Stroke like his, 90% of patients will not survive or will have a devastating outcome,” said Dr. Ziad Darkhabani, MD, stroke and interventional neurologist, stroke medical director, Aurora Baycare Medical Center certified Comprehensive Stroke Center.

The first responders suggested they go straight to the certified Comprehensive Stroke Center at Aurora BayCare Medical Center, “We really provide a full spectrum of care when it comes to stroke and hemorrhagic stroke it means we are 24/7, we have all the team needed,” explained Dr. Darkhabani.

Knowing they were going to a certified Comprehensive Stroke Center gave the couple peace of mind, “Immediate care, I know you have to have immediate care when there’s a stroke and that was our best bet,” said Darlene. 

Stroke and interventional neurologist  Dr. Ziad Darkhabani performed a life-saving mechanical thrombectomy, “The only hope for a patient like Richard is to remove the clot with a catheter,” explained Dr. Darkhabani.

Dr. Darkhabani suspected that the blood clot came from the heart due to atrial fibrillation, “Because of that abnormal rhythm, clots tend to build in the atrium” explained Dr. Darkhabani, “And eventually travel through the heart to go to the brain, basically which is usually the first place to head  and cause a stroke.”

But they don’t know for sure if AFib caused the stroke so Richard was sent to cardiac electrophysiologist Dr. Vinay Mehta at the Aurora BayCare AFib Clinic. 

Dr. Mehta implanted a loop recorder under Richard’s skin near the heart to monitor for AFib, “And it keeps on monitoring your heart rhythm 24 hours a day 7 days a week,” said Dr. Vinay Mehta, MD, cardiac electrophysiologist, Aurora BayCare Medical Director Cardiac Electrophysiology.

A remote monitor in the home automatically downloads Richard’s’ heart rhythm information from the loop recorder- and transmits it the hospital, “What it can tell us is if your heart is going into an abnormal rhythm,” explained Dr. Mehta.

Knowing what caused the clot and stroke will help determine treatment, “If he has this abnormal rhythm and he’s not on the right medications then his risk for a stroke is very high,” said Dr. Mehta. 

The loop recorder also gives Richard and Darlene peace of mind, “Somebody is watching him,” said Darlene.

They believe Dr. Darkhabani saved Richard’s life, “And I’m here, it was a death notice, people younger than me die,” said Richard.

And Richard feels lucky to have more time to spend with his family, “Our life goes on. She’s  got me,” said Richard and Darlene.

The loop recorder has not detected any AFib in Richard, but if it is found in the future they have the assurance doctors can treat it right away. 

To learn more you can call AuroraBayCare at 866-938-0035 or email healthwatch@aurorabaycare.com. 

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