In January 2018, the American Heart Association (AHA) and American Stroke Association (ASA) released new ischemic stroke treatment guidelines that make more patients eligible for life-saving treatments.
According to the ASA, an ischemic stroke accounts for 87 percent of all stroke cases and occurs as a result of an obstruction within a blood vessel supplying blood to the brain.
The updated guidelines expand the treatment window for a clot-removal procedure, called a mechanical thrombectomy, from six hours to 24 hours after the stroke begins. This procedure is effective for the most severe strokes, those caused by large vessel occlusions (blockages).
“This change in the guidelines will allow emergency medical services (EMS) to treat almost every patient that has stroke symptoms as a candidate for intervention treatment,” said neurologist Dr. Iftekhar Ahmed, medical director of the Stroke Center at Research Medical Center in Kansas City.
However, just because the time frame and intervention treatment options have expanded it doesn’t mean you should wait to seek medical attention if you or someone you know is experiencing a stroke. The sooner patients arrive at a hospital the more likely they are to receive lifesaving clot-removal treatments.
“When bystanders recognize stroke symptoms in someone, it is still very important to call 9-1-1 at the first sign of stroke,” Dr. Ahmed said. “At a comprehensive stroke center like Research Medical Center, we strive to have the blocked vessel open in less than 60 minutes from arrival. Our fastest recorded case is 12 minutes from groin puncture to opening the vessel.”
Stroke Warning Signs - FAST!
The individual experiencing the stroke symptoms is typically too disoriented to call 9-1-1, so it’s important to learn how to spot a stroke F-A-S-T.
- Facial weakness
- Arm weakness
- Speech slurred
- Time is Critical. Call 911!
Dr. Ahmed recommends educating family and community members about stroke symptoms and what to do if you suspect a loved one or stranger is experiencing a stroke.
Instead of driving the patient to the hospital, wait for EMS to arrive after calling 9-1-1. Immediate medical treatment saves lives.
“Getting the patient to an emergency room with well-trained, experienced stroke care professionals or telemedicine access to this team will lead to the best possible outcomes,” Dr. Ahmed said. “EMS can evaluate each patient and get them to a designated stroke center, or initiate advanced stroke diagnostics in the field or in a hospital with stroke telemedicine connections with Research.”
HCA Midwest Health is the region’s largest network of designated stroke centers. Know where to go in the event of a stroke.