Fast Treatment in the CMH Emergency Room Leads to Full Recovery for Local Stroke Patient

When it comes to stroke, seeking immediate treatment has the ability to significantly improve outcomes.

At the age of 71 and in excellent health, Steve Tobias wasn’t a candidate for a stoke. Yet on June 7 – National Donut Day – while taking his son and granddaughters out for donuts in Ventura, Tobias had a serious stroke. He recognized it quickly because his vision was off, his words were slurred, and his legs felt wobbly.

Within 15 minutes, Tobias was in the emergency room at Community Memorial Hospital in Ventura where he was treated immediately by Dr. Nicholas Tarlov, a neurologist on the CMH staff. He gave Tobias an injection of IV r-tPA, a medication that dissolves blood clots in ischemic strokes, which make up 80 percent of all strokes. IV r-tPA must be administered within 4.5 hours of the onset of an ischemic stroke to be effective, and the earlier it’s administered, the better the patient’s chances for recovery.

Everyone should know, and be able to recognize, the signs and symptoms of a stroke.

Today, Tobias is completely recovered. Dr. Tarlov wants to share the message that people should know the symptoms of a stroke so they can get to the hospital as soon as possible for treatment.

“This patient was saved because he came to the emergency room so early and received such fast treatment while here,” Dr. Tarlov said.

Recognizing Stroke Symptoms

Dr. Tarlov says people of any age, and especially those over 35, should be aware of the symptoms of a stroke: trouble moving or feeling one side, trouble with balance, trouble talking, and vision problems. Anyone experiencing these symptoms should go to the nearest hospital emergency room immediately. In some patients, symptoms worsen after the initial onset.

The Emergency Department at CMH in Ventura always has a neurologist on call to treat stroke patients.

Dr. Tarlov noted that many people aren’t sure if they are having a stroke, so they delay going to the hospital. “Patients with milder symptoms tend to wait and come in to the hospital later,” he said. “Others don’t even realize they are having a stoke so are not as concerned and are not being treated as fast as they should be.  Even if the symptoms seem minor, patients should come quickly,” Dr. Tarlov added.

CMH always has a neurologist on call to treat stoke patients coming to the ER.

Fast Treatment Leads to Recovery

Steve Tobias, who lives in Saticoy, had been golfing in Ojai and then dropped in on his son and grandkids who live near CMH in Ventura.  Tobias started feeling symptoms at the donut shop. “My vision was crazy but my thinking was good. I slurred my words for only a few seconds. When I tried to leave the donut shop my legs were like rubber,” he said. His son drove Tobias right over to CMH. By this time Tobias was too wobbly on his feet to walk and was seeing double, so he was taken into the ER on a gurney, conscious and able to talk.

Dr. Tarlov came right over to treat his new patient. After Tobias received the IV r-tPA, his symptoms began clearing up and he was 95 percent better within a few hours. He’d had a partial blockage from a blood clot in the brain stem.

Tobias said his fast care – getting to CMH quickly and being treated within minutes – made all the difference. He was sent to the ICU for monitoring and went home two days later with no lasting effects of the stroke. His only follow-up care has been some testing to try and determine the cause of his stroke.

“Everybody in the ER and the ICU were wonderful people,” said Tobias, a retired former dean of Ventura College. “I thought everybody treated me extremely well. I was very fortunate. I was very blessed to be where I was. The treatment I got was a blessing.”