Time Is Of the Essence in Acute Stroke Treatment

Ambulance at Emergency EntranceWe are fortunate to live in an area where several of the local hospitals including Boca Raton Regional Hospital and Delray Medical Center are certified stroke treatment facilities. What this means is that if you are experiencing symptoms of a sudden and acute stroke then they are prepared to begin lifesaving and permanent neurological damage sparing treatment within 60 minutes of arrival on site. This means we need to transport you to the facility quickly and efficiently if the signs of a stroke occur. Ideally we wish to begin treatment within three hours of the onset of the symptoms if possible, but under some circumstances we can extend that to six hours. At these facilities they have the staff and training to rapidly assess your neurological status and cardiovascular status, perform the necessary imaging studies of the brain and cerebral blood vessels and start you on a thrombolytic medication such as rtPA quickly and safely to save your life and or prevent severe permanent neurological damage.

Our local hospitals have recently reminded their physician and nursing staff of the different options available for stroke management. They all require the same thing. Patients and their loved ones must rapidly recognize the symptoms of an evolving stroke and seek medical attention by calling 911 and being transported to a stroke center. If you or your loved one suddenly develops a drooping face it is time to call 911. Ask the person to smile and if one side droops then the problem needs immediate investigation. If the individual develops sudden weakness in an arm or leg, especially if they are on the same side of the body then you need to call 911 immediately. If the person suddenly develops difficulty speaking it is time to call 911. That would include problems with finding the correct words or just pronouncing the words correctly in a manner that is not garbled. If the patient suddenly develops problems seeing out of one or both eyes or part of one or both eyes it is time for an immediate evaluation. The same can be said for the sudden onset of confusion in an individual who never had this problem. Call 911. We additionally recommend immediate evaluation for sudden dizziness, loss of balance or loss or coordination.

After 911 has been called you may then call your doctor or family to inform them. If you have an aspirin you may administer it. If you have a list of the patient’s medications bring it or the pills in the original pill bottles. Getting to a stroke center quickly may save your life or save you from permanent neurological damage.