By John Lauritsen

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — More than 140,000 people die each year from stroke in the United States. It is also the leading cause of long-term disability. However, Fairview Health Services thinks a new tool can help change that.

Donald Peterson, 79, recalls having a recent stroke.

“I got up out of bed. I fell flat on my face. I couldn’t move. I couldn’t talk,” said Peterson.

His wife called 911 and paramedics arrived quickly, but the outlook wasn’t good.

“I remember looking at the ceiling. I could hear them, but I couldn’t respond at all,” said Peterson.

Peterson was rushed to Fairview Southdale and was put through a new CT scanner. Within minutes, he was in surgery and when he woke up it was almost as if it never happened.

“I could be a vegetable right now and would be unable to respond,” said Peterson.

“Basically, he was going to be very debilitated until we got this scan and realized the patient had a very large, salvageable brain,” said Dr. Alexander Zubkov.

Zubkov said a stroke like the one Peterson had would previously have been nearly paralyzing. He would have had problems with his right side and may not have been able to speak. But thanks to a new 640-slice CT scanner, they found the problem right away.

“We removed the clot and the patient was discharged home within two or three days, and he was normal. So, here he comes back to normal instead of going into a nursing home,” said Zubkov.

Zubkov said the new generation scanner is five times faster than the old ones and there is far less radiation exposure for patients. Unlike the old scanners, the new scanner shows nearly crystal-clear images of the entire brain: from just two centimeters before, to images from every possible angle.

For every minute someone is having a stroke, they lose about two million brain cells. That’s why Zubkov is happy to have this on board.

“It is a huge difference. It saves them,” said Zubkov.

Peterson is living proof.

Days after surgery, he’s doing everything he did before his stroke.

“Right now, I feel 100 percent. I feel a little bit tired, but in the last three days I’m back to 100 percent,” said Peterson.

Zubkov said he can get a CT scan back in less than five minutes, as opposed to 25 minutes before.

He said the new CT scanner can actually capture images of any organ in the body.

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