Retiree’s headache led to the Abrazo West ER

Jun 20, 2023

A fall and a headache landed Jose Romero in the Emergency Department at Abrazo West Campus where he was diagnosed with a brain hemorrhage and aneurysm.

The active, 71-year-old retired landscaping contractor blacked out and fell while working at home the previous day, but was reluctant to mention the episode to his daughter Dollie Mendez.

“He had been leaning over with a hammer in his hand and had a gash across his nose and above this eye,” said Mendez. “He told us the next day he had a bad headache, so we took him to the ER at Abrazo West.”

When they arrived at the hospital, Interventional Neurologist Dr. Sushant Kale examined Romero and tests confirmed he needed surgery. “He was found to have a subarachnoid hemorrhage and a right posterior communicating artery aneurysm,” said Dr. Kale.

Aneurysm rupture is the most common cause of nontraumatic spontaneous subarachnoid hemorrhage. Posterior communicating artery aneurysms are the common site of aneurysms and have a high rupture rate, explained Dr. Kale.

Dr. Kale treated Romero with endovascular coiling, a procedure that feeds a soft, flexible wire into the aneurysm via a catheter. The wire coils inside the aneurysm sealing off the blood flow from the artery to prevent a stroke-causing rupture.

Mendez said her father’s recovery was nothing short of a “miracle,” and looking back on his remarks about little headaches in the days before he blacked out made her realize how important it is to seek medical care when something doesn’t feel quite right.

“Dr. Kale told him ‘you’re so lucky’ he got to the hospital when he did,” said Mendez. “That was so scary. Since all this happened it was such an eye opener about not ignoring symptoms when you don’t feel right.”

Approximately 20% of strokes are a result of bleeding in the brain. Causes may include uncontrolled high blood pressure leading to an arterial bleed, head trauma resulting in subdural hematoma or a ruptured cerebral artery aneurysm, explained Tracy Von Aspen, FNP-C, a neuro nurse practitioner at Abrazo West Campus.

“This is why any acute neurological change, head trauma or worst headache of your life requires immediate attention and expedited emergency care,” said Von Aspen.

Romero is back home tinkering in his workshop, and life is returning to normal.

“The rehab helped him get strong enough to get home, he has full range of use of his arms and legs and speech, and he’s getting back to normal. My dad was really pleased with Dr. Kale, he’s a great surgeon. Dad has bounced back and is doing well thanks to the neuro doctors, Abrazo, family and God.”

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