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Patient aims to raise stroke awareness in NYT Magazine

Heart Health | Community | January 22, 2020
Creative illustration of a brain to accompany story about PeaceHealth neurologist discovering patient's strokes were caused by a rare heart tumor
67-year-old had no clue how much trouble she was in.

Hoping to raise public awareness about strokes caused by a rare heart tumor, an Alaska woman, who was impressed with her care at PeaceHealth Sacred Heart Medical Center at RiverBend in Springfield, Oregon, shared her case with The New York Times Magazine.

The 67-year-old woman, who had recently moved back to Alaska from Oregon, is a fan of the magazine’s “Diagnosis” column about solving medical mysteries, so she contacted columnist Dr. Lisa Sanders to share her own medical mystery.

Margareth Saldanha, MDThe woman collapsed while walking to her car after a long flight from Alaska to Eugene. She was brought to Sacred Heart at RiverBend with stroke symptoms. Ultimately, she was diagnosed with a rare heart tumor, thanks to the skill and persistence of neurologist Dr. Margareth Saldanha.

“I’m so grateful for the level of care I received,” the woman says.

She thanks Dr. Saldanha, as well as cardiovascular surgeon Dr. David Duke. He removed a benign tumor the size of a brussels sprout from her heart—the cause of her series of small strokes.

She also is forever indebted to Diana Chappell, an off-duty paramedic, who on the way to catch her own flight, saw the woman collapse, rushed to her side and recognized the signs of stroke, including slurred speech and drooping on one side of her face.

At the time, the woman says she insisted that she felt fine. Now she realizes she didn’t know what was happening to her and is so grateful that Diana did.

“The paramedic who found me knew I needed help and I did not,” the woman says. “I had no clue how much trouble I was in.”

Read the full New York Times Magazine article here.

Photo above:  Dr. Margareth Saldanha

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