Nicki James Petrelli

Nicki James Petrelli had an active lifestyle that included a husband, two young children and demanding work as a civil litigation lawyer in Houston. She exercised and ran 3 miles every day despite her busy schedule. With no history of stroke in her family, she had no idea that a 28-year-old woman like her could have a stroke.

While attending church with her family, Nicki’s leg felt like it was going numb and she tried to prop herself up in the pew. She told her husband her legs felt strange; then her entire right side went numb and she slipped to the floor. Someone called 911. By the time the EMS ambulance arrived, Nicki could not speak or comprehend what was said to her. Nicki was having a stroke.

The paramedics gave her oxygen in the ambulance and brought her to Houston Methodist. She was rapidly evaluated and, since a stroke was suspected by the physician, she received a computerized tomography (CT) scan of her head that revealed a blood clot (ischemic stroke) and ruled out bleeding in the brain (hemorrhagic stroke).

Consulting with Nicki’s husband, the physicians decided on a therapy: She would receive tissue plasminogen activator or tPA, an anticoagulant and supplementary albumin (part of a clinical trial at Houston Methodist for improving stroke patient outcome).

Nicki’s physicians found a small hole between the right and left side of her heart that had been completely asymptomatic until it caused the stroke; a small clot that had filled the passage broke free and became lodged in her brain. She chose to have the cardiologists at Houston Methodist repair her heart so that she would not have to take anticoagulant medication for the rest of her life.

Nicki is back with her family and at work. About the stroke, Nicki says: “It’s absolutely treatable. I’d like to educate people that this can happen at a young age. I run 3 miles every day. It’s not something to be afraid of.” About Treatment of Stroke at the Eddy Scurlock Stroke Center at Houston Methodist
Much has been learned about the causes and prevention of stroke and those who arrive in the emergency room with a stroke are no longer viewed as untreatable. In fact, a coordinated, interdisciplinary rapid-response system is vital for treating stroke victims.

The physicians and interdisciplinary team of professionals of Houston Methodist are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to provide immediate stroke intervention and care. Our exceptional team includes neurologists, neurosurgeons, neuroradiologists, cardiologists, neuropsychologists, rehabilitative specialists and a highly dedicated nursing staff. From the first moments of the onset of symptoms, the team provides patients the very latest treatments and care with the hope of the best possible recovery.

Houston Methodist hosts monthly support group meetings for stroke survivors, families and caregivers. Medical experts offer stroke survivors and other participants a chance to share their experiences and receive passionate and caring social support

Our dedicated physicians are university faculty with Weill Cornell Medical College and conduct groundbreaking research and clinical trials in stroke causation and treatment. They also lead outreach and education efforts in the greater Houston community and other parts of Texas to provide awareness of stroke treatment and prevention