Rick Osborne

Rick Osborne lives a pretty active life. He works as a carpenter and one of his greatest joys is riding his motorcycle. That’s why Rick was not going to accept the possibility of being on blood thinners for the rest of his life in order to prevent a second stroke. Luckily, because of a new, innovative procedure he didn’t have to.

Rick had been having some trouble with his vision lately, but on May 11, 2018, he knew something was wrong. He had a bit of a headache and trouble seeing his TV. He made an appointment for the eye doctor that afternoon. To his surprise, the eye doctor told him to go to the emergency room to rule out a stroke.  

Rick headed to the Belton Regional Medical Center emergency room. In the ER, Rick was quickly diagnosed with a hemorrhagic (bleeding) stroke and transferred to Research Medical Center, a Comprehensive Stroke Center.

A while back, Rick had an episode of atrial fibrillation (afib), a heart rhythm disorder. But he had not been to a cardiologist in ten years and was not aware of any heart palpitations since.

After a further review, the neurologist believed Rick’s stroke was caused by a blood clot that originated in the left atrial appendage (LAA) of the heart. Afib can cause blood to pool and clot in the LAA, increasing a person’s risk for stroke.

After a further review, the neurologist believed Rick’s stroke was caused by a blood clot that originated in the left atrial appendage (LAA) of the heart. Afib can cause blood to pool and clot in the LAA, increasing a person’s risk for stroke.

Many people with afib are prescribed blood thinners for stroke prevention, but Rick was extremely concerned about being blood thinners long-term. Rick regularly works at high heights, deals sharp objects and loves to ride his motorcycle, which can put him at high risk for injury and traumatic bleeding complications.

Because Rick’s case triggered Care Assure, HCA Midwest Health’s emergency prevention and care navigation program, Sherril Foster, a nurse navigator, was automatically through the patented information technology system.

After Rick was discharged, Sherril gave him a call to see how he was feeling. They discussed his medications, the symptoms he should watch for and the follow-up appointments he needed. She helped schedule appointments with Iftekhar Ahmed, MD, the neurologist who saw him in the hospital, his primary care doctor and C. David Rios, MD, a cardiologist.

“Follow-up calls and checking on me, that has never happened in my life,” stated Rick. “I had questions about appointments and follow-ups and Sherril would answer those questions or make appointments for me. It was very helpful because I was back to work at the time and in the construction business it can be hard to make phone calls.”

“It was very comforting to know that I could just call her and say ‘Sherril I need something or I have a question’ and she would always get back with me as soon as she had an answer,” said Rick.

Dr. Rios and Rick discussed the possibility of a left atrial appendage closure procedure called Watchman. The minimally-invasive procedure could prevent a future stroke without the need for life-long blood thinners. Rick felt that the Watchman procedure could be a good alternative for stroke prevention given his lifestyle.

“It was very important that the cardiologist would work with me to develop a treatment plan that fit my lifestyle. I think this procedure was necessary for what I wanted in my life,” stated Rick. “I want to keep riding my motorcycle for many more years. A road rash would be a bad thing with blood thinners.”

Dr. Rios referred Rick to Bangalore Deepak, MD at the Structural Heart Clinic at Research Medical Center. He was a determined to be a candidate for the Watchman procedure.

“The procedure was quick. Everything was running on time. There was not pain, no complications and the surgical team was great. They came back and checked with me the next day to make sure everything was going okay. They did a great job,” explained Rick.

Since his successful Watchman, Rick no longer needs to take blood thinners.

“I truly believe that I got the best care I could get. Now, without a doubt in my mind, I know where I’m going to go,” said Rick.

“Everybody that called and talked to me about what I should do to prevent any further problems, it has really just been a very pleasant experience,” stated Rick. “The personal attention that you get is very good.”

When asked about the future, Rick is characteristically upbeat, saying “The last time I saw my Internal Medicine doctor, he said, ‘Your heart is as good as mine.’ I just haven’t stopped. I’ve been on my motorcycle and not too worried about anything. Life is good.”