Changes in Stroke Treatments Leading to Better Outcomes
- Stroke is the second leading cause of death in the world.
- Someone in the U.S. has a stroke approximately every 40 seconds.
- Strokes are a leading cause of adult disability.
- Strokes kill about 133,000 Americans each year.
- Ischemic strokes accounts for 87 percent of all strokes and are caused by a blood clot blocking blood flow to the brain.
- Up to 80 percent of strokes are preventable.
How to recognize a stroke F.A.S.T.
- F - Face Drooping: Does one side of the face droop or is it numb? Ask the person to smile.
- A - Arm Weakness: Is one arm weak or numb? Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm drift downward?
- S - Speech Difficulty: Is speech slurred, are they unable to speak, or are they hard to understand? Ask the person to repeat a simple sentence like, “The sky is blue.” Is the sentence repeated correctly?
- T - Time to call 9-1-1: If the person shows any of these symptoms, even if the symptoms go away, call 9-1-1 and get them to the hospital immediately. It is best to use an ambulance as hospitals are set up to immediately treat acute stroke patients arriving by emergency response vehicles.
The American Heart Association together with American Stroke Association recently released new broader guidelines in acute ischemic stroke treatment. These new recommendations provide guidance to receiving which treatments and when for eligible persons. Allowing more people to receive these lifesaving treatments and a larger window of time for completion improves the likelihood of better outcomes.
For those patients with clots in larger vessels that can be mechanically removed, limiting the risk of disability, the window of time these patients can receive the procedure has expanded from 6 hours to 16 hours. Some patients meeting additional criteria may have up to a 24 hour window in which to complete the procedure.
With clots in smaller vessels, IV drug Alteplase, the only FDA approved clot-busting treatment is now available to patients with mild strokes. This medication can decrease disability when given promptly, increasing the chance for better outcomes in more stroke patients.
At this time, the new guidelines are only approved for use in hospitals certified as Thrombectomy-Capable Stroke Centers and those hospitals with video conferencing to a certified center available. Check with your local hospitals for this certification, so that if you or someone you know experiences symptoms of a stroke, you can receive the very latest in acute stroke treatment.