Thursday, August 25, 2011 - When it Comes to Stroke, Quick Response is Key

Fort Lauderdale, FL - When marine carpenter Paul Riester was in a martial arts class in Fort Lauderdale, the left side of his body suddenly felt weak. His speech slurred as he tried to tell a friend that he could barely move his left side.

A paramedic who happened to be in the classroom overheard Riester’s comments and impaired speech.  His first thought was that Riester was having a stroke. He immediately called 911.

Every 45 seconds, someone in America has a stroke. It is the third leading cause of death and a leading cause of severe, long-term disability. Stroke - also known as a "brain attack" - is a sudden interruption in the blood supply to the brain.  When this happens, the brain cannot get the oxygen it needs from the blood, and brain cells begin to die.

When a stroke occurs, every second counts. The faster treatment is sought, the greater the chances for a full recovery. 

As soon as Riester, 64, arrived in the Emergency Department at Broward General Medical Center,  the Stroke Team sprang into action. Neurologist James Cimera, MD, evaluated him and diagnosed him with a type of stroke caused by clots blocking blood flow to the brain.

Cimera administered a clot-dissolving agent to restore blood flow to the brain. Within an hour of treatment, Riester regained movement on his previously impaired left side. “Prompt treatment saved Mr. Riester’s life, and prevented what could have been irreversible damage from his stroke,” said  Dr. Cimera. “Luckily, he had people at the martial arts studio who acted fast to get him the help he needed.”

Riester was also treated for a cerebral aneurysm by neurointerventionalist Ross Urwin, MD and was found to have carotid stenosis, which was later repaired by cardiothoracic surgeon Eugene Costantini, MD.

After nearly four weeks of inpatient treatment at BGMC, Riester returned home and made a full recovery. He has made significant progress and his prognosis is very good.  Riester said, “I was really lucky that my symptoms were recognized so quickly. And the doctors and staff at Broward General who cared for me were top notch. I always felt that I was in good hands during my treatment.”

Thanks to the quick response of his friend, paramedics and the medical team at BGMC, he’s resumed his normal, active life – including his busy marine carpentry business and martial arts classes.

The American Stroke Association has just awarded the stroke program at BGMC the “Get with the Guidelines Silver Plus Stroke Award. “We are honored to be recognized for the quality care we deliver to our patients everyday” stated Norma Vesey, Stroke Program Coordinator.

Broward Health, providing service for more than 50 years, is a nationally recognized system   offering world class health care services to our neighbors in South Florida. One of the 10 largest public health systems in the nation, Broward Health includes Broward General Medical Center, North Broward Medical Center, Imperial Point Medical Center, Coral Springs Medical Center, Chris Evert Children’s Hospital, Broward Health Weston and more than 30 facilities of the Community Health Services and Broward Health Physician Group. For more information, visit