By AMERICAN HEART ASSOCIATION NEWS
The details of what happened to her the day she had a stroke are still fuzzy for Lindaly Hernandez. But 4-year-old Jayden Garcia remembers exactly where he was the day his mother collapsed in her bathroom.
Jayden, who was 3 at the time, was playing in his bedroom at their Mesquite, Texas, home when he heard his mother yell. He ran and told his grandmother his mother was in trouble.
“I was scared because I thought she’d hit herself very hard,” he said, adding she had a bump on her head that was bleeding.
Hernandez was two and a half months pregnant in May 2015 when she had a stroke. The 28-year-old said she’d had her regular bout of morning sickness before falling against the shower curtain and hitting the tile floor. The left side of her body was paralyzed and she could tell her speech was slurred when she called out to her son for help.
Hernandez chokes back tears as she recalls thinking that God and her father, who had recently died, were watching over her as paramedics rushed her to the hospital.
“I only had both of them in my mind,” she said.
The family said Jayden’s quick reaction helped his mother get treated quickly before the stroke could cause serious brain damage.
Hernandez’s husband, Jimmy Garcia, was working about an hour away when he found out his wife was on the way to the hospital. A doctor soon called, asking for his authorization to give his wife a medication that could possibly cause her to lose the baby.
“I was just so scared because, basically, they told me that you could possibly lose one of [them] today,” the 30-year-old said. “That was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to deal with.”
Hernandez was having an ischemic stroke, the most common type of stroke caused by a blockage of a blood vessel that supplies blood to the brain. Doctors needed to give her a drug called tPA, short for tissue plasminogen activator, that could dissolve the clot.
She was then rushed by ambulance to UT Southwestern Medical Center’s comprehensive stroke center in Dallas to receive a relatively new procedure to treat large clots in which a device called a stent retriever was used to ensnare and remove the clot. A little more than four hours after arriving at the first emergency room, normal blood flow was restored to Hernandez’s brain.
“Had this artery not gotten opened in a timely fashion, she could’ve been very disabled,” said Lee Pride, M.D., an interventional neuroradiologist at UT Southwestern.
Strokes are uncommon in pregnant woman, Pride said, but there are “unique aspects” to pregnancy that slightly increase risk, such as changes in body volume and a tendency for the blood to clot in the later months. Hernandez also has a small hole in her heart that might have made it easier for a clot to travel to her brain, he said.
Results from a 2015 study in Obstetrics & Gynecology show pregnancy-related stroke hospitalizations increased by 61.5 percent between 1994 and 2011, from three strokes per 10,000 pregnancy-related hospitalizations to 4.8 strokes. A third of strokes occurred postpartum.
Last December, Hernandez gave birth to Alissa.
She now takes a baby aspirin every day and exercises, either taking a walk or using her treadmill at home.
Sitting near his wife in their living room, as Jayden and Alissa played, Garcia said, “That’s the same beautiful woman I fell in love with.” And he couldn’t be prouder of his young son who “jumped into action when his mom needed him the most.”
After the stroke, Garcia said his son was scared it would happen again. Jayden became more attached to his mother and wanted to be around her at all times.
“He loves his mom a lot,” Garcia said.
Sara Granados, Hernandez’s mother, is grateful to her grandson for helping save her daughter and granddaughter.
“Because had it not worked out the way it did, God knows what would’ve happened,” said the 59-year-old, crying as her daughter put her arm around her.
As the family shared their memories, Jayden insisted his little sister wanted to get in a word or two — or rather a babble or two.
Asked to say something about her big brother, Alissa got some help. Jayden whispered, “Say you like to play with me.”