Carotid artery dissection. It’s one of the most common causes of stroke in younger adults.
And while you might not associate the word “stroke” with younger patients, the condition – if not treated immediately – could lead to paralysis and even death.
Lindsey Singh can attest to the importance of immediacy. The 31-year-old mother of two from Flanders experienced vision disturbances in her right eye during a spin class on April 7, 2017.
“I knew right away something wasn’t right,” says Lindsey, who was aware of stroke symptoms following a transient ischemic attack (TIA) three years earlier.
“First it was my vision; then my right side got weak. In a strange way, the previous event alerted me to act quickly.” Lindsey immediately called her husband, Avtar, who brought her to Hackettstown Medical Center, where her incredible journey began. A CT scan revealed no noticeable concerns, but the Hackettstown team was not convinced. Following a CT angiogram, doctors determined there was a tear in her carotid artery (large blood vessel to the brain) and it was 90 percent blocked.
“ I wouldn't be here today for my children if it wasn't for Dr. Saphier.” – Lindsey Singh
“It’s rare for someone that young to have stroke symptoms, so missing the diagnosis would have been catastrophic,” says Hackettstown emergency room physician Maulik Trivedi, MD.
“Once we knew what we were dealing with, we moved fast.” Lindsey was transported by medical helicopter to the Comprehensive Stroke Center at Overlook Medical Center in Summit, where she underwent several angiograms to assess her arteries before stroke specialists placed a stent in her neck to open the occlusion.
“With cases like this, we usually treat the issue medically, but the medical therapy failed with Lindsey,” says Paul Saphier, MD, an endovascular neurosurgeon for Overlook Medical Center.
“She went from bad to worse quickly.” Her right arm went numb, her speech was slurred, and she was confused – all indicators of an imminent traumatic stroke.
“It was a life-or-death moment,” says Avtar. “It felt like our lives were on the brink of falling apart – then Dr. Saphier joined Lindsey’s medical team.”
Dr. Saphier recommended a complex procedure that would offer Lindsey the best chance of surviving. During the high-risk surgery, complicated by Lindsey’s fragile vascular system (which she later learned was due to a rare genetic syndrome called Ehlers-Danlos), Dr. Saphier successfully prevented a debilitating stroke.
“At the time, I wondered if I would ever make it out of the hospital,” says Lindsey. “But then Dr. Saphier saved my life. I wouldn’t be here today for my children if it wasn’t for Dr. Saphier.”
Following surgery, Lindsey made an aweinspiring recovery. She quickly progressed through therapy and began taking step and speaking fluidly within a month. And just six months after surgery, she resumed much of her normal life and continues to make progress in the last leg of therapy to strengthen her right arm and hand.
“I can’t thank everyone enough – the doctors and nurses at Hackettstown and Overlook were wonderful,” says Lindsey. “They helped me get my life back. And I’m forever grateful.”