Woman Describes Experience of Brain Aneurysm

Community Regional Medical Center is the only hospital the Valley that can treat brain aneuryms and strokes by removing blood clots from the brain.

When Pablita Garcia experienced a brain aneurysm seven years ago, it was her quick decision to get help, and the doctors here that saved her life.

Pablita, “I had a headache, this massive headache, and I just felt awful, awful, so I decided I was just gonna go home, and on the way home it was even worse.”

One of pablita’s physicians, Dr. R Loch MacDonald, said she had a brain aneurysm that ruptured. The Clinical Professor of Neurosurgery at UCSF Fresno stated, “A brain aneurysm is a weak spot on a blood vessel that’s obviously in the brain, so if you imagine for example, the sprinkler system in your yard, if the hose gets a weak spot and then it bulges out that would be like an aneurysm, and then of course what happens if it ruptures… then you have a brain hemorrhage and that is actually called a subarachnoid hemorrhage… people who have a ruptured aneurysm there’s a very classical set of symptoms that happens and basically it’s if you have a sudden onset severe headache generally the worst headache you’ve ever had in your life.”

It hurt so bad, Pablita typed 911 in her phone and when she pulled into her driveway near Bass Lake, she called. That’s the last thing she remembers. She was rushed to a hospital, but needed to be transferred to Community Regional, the Valley’s first certified primary stroke center. There, she met Dr. Amir Khan, an endovascular neurologist and the Co-Director of the Stroke Program.

“When I met her, she was very confused and we were able, fortunately, to take her to the operating room and treat her ruptured aneurysm. She ended up having an excellent outcome,” said Dr. Khan.

Dr. Khan performed a cerebral, or brain angiogram, going into the arteries of Pablita’s brain to see exactly where the aneurysm was.

He continued, “We ended up treating the aneurysm by a process called coil inclusion, which is to say that we implant these platinum filaments that go into the inside of the aneurysm to shut off flow and keep it from bleeding again.”

Dr. Khan also found three other aneurysms in Pablita’s brain and was able to treat those.

Pablita commented, “Very grateful, very grateful and very grateful for Dr. Khan as well… I didn’t realize at the time that Community Regional was that vital to the area… I would tell anybody to go there now.”

Pablita’s doctors said the fact that she acted fast in getting help played a huge role in her recovery and outcome.

“The most important thing that determines how the person is going to recover is what their condition is when they come in, so that’s why it’s important if you just have a headache and it’s a ruptured aneurysm, that you go to the hospital right away and we fix it before you deteriorate,” said Dr. MacDonald.

Dr. Khan said, “The fact that she came in early allowed us to give her treatment to prevent further complications that could happen even in the early phase.”

Pablita shares her advice.

“If you have something that is the worst headache you’ve ever… if you feel anything that’s just beyond normal, go to the hospital,” she warned.

Dr. Khan provided Pablita some reassurance about her future.

“I’m happy to say her prognosis is excellent. Statistically, we know that people who’ve had one ruptured aneurysm are at risk of another ruptured aneurysm… In Pablita’s case, we were able to identify those other aneurysms and treat them,” Dr. Khan added.

Dr. Khan did a series of imaging to continue following Pablita’s arteries for more than seven years now, all of which didn’t show any other areas of concern.

Dr. Khan ended, “Aneurysms can have a familial or family inherited component to them… it is important that if someone has a family history of someone very close to them who’s had a brain aneurysm… and when I say close, I mean either parents children or siblings, they may be at an increased risk of this happening.”

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