Utah hospitals top the nation in treating stroke patients

Posted at 7:45 PM, May 02, 2013
and last updated 2013-05-03 00:27:54-04

SALT LAKE CITY - A new national study shows Utah hospitals are the best in the nation at saving people who suffer from a stroke.

Strokes are the fourth leading cause of death in the United States and third in Utah, but there is a better chance of leaving the hospital symptom-free here in Utah than anywhere else in the country.

Utah hospitals are ranked number one when it comes to identifying and treating stroke patients with medication that breaks up blood clots.

Doctors say the key to having the best chance of recovery is identifying symptoms early and getting to the hospital.

"If we can treat someone within 60 minutes it increases their odds of coming out better on the other end," said Dr. Kevin Call with the Utah State Stroke Task Force.

Timothy Gamble is a month into recovery after having a stroke. At 26 years old, he now has to relearn how to do everyday tasks like walk, brush his teeth and button a shirt.

"It's been crazy. Having to relearn simple functions of every day," Gamble said.

Gamble says that the morning he had a stroke, he woke up with a terrible headache.

"My left leg wasn't working at all. I was tripping and stumbling all over myself. I took a big trip in the hotel lobby and kind of laid on the floor for a little while. I was finally able to get myself back up and walk back up to my room," he said.

If not for his friends, including FOX 13 employee Lauren Gardner, insisting he go to the hospital, doctors say Gamble likely wouldn't have survived.

"His speech sounded all garbled like he had something in his mouth. That's when I was, like, 'Okay, there is something really bad going on.' I still didn't know what because you don't think a stroke. I mean we are in our twenties we are supposed to be invincible, stuff like that doesn't happen," Gardner said.

Gamble is expected to make a full recovery because he got treatment in time.