Stroke interventions: know your options

Thanks to advances in medicine over the past decade, more patients than ever are surviving strokes. However, for treatment to be successful and minimize stroke-related disability, seeking help immediately is critical. (See “Three simple questions that can uncover stroke.”)

Here’s a closer look at the treatment options:

  • Tissue plasminogen activator (tPA) can be administered via IV, or directly into the clot via a thin tube called a catheter — a process known as intra-arterial treatment. Considered the gold standard for treatment of ischemic strokes (about 85 percent of strokes fall into this category), the medication works to dissolve clots that are blocking blood flow to the brain. Most patients will need to seek medical care within three hours of the onset of symptoms to be eligible for this treatment.
  • Clot retrievers are small mechanical devices inserted into affected arteries, trapping clots and either removing them or breaking them up to restore blood flow. In recent years, research has been mixed on the effectiveness of these devices. But, as some experts point out, this may have been because studies included earlier generations of retrievers, which weren’t as effective.
  • A combination of tPA and mechanical devices may help some patients avoid serious disability. In January, the New England Journal of Medicine published a study that found a dual approach using the clot-busting drug tPA and clot retrievers helped restore functional independence in certain stroke patients more effectively than tPA treatment alone.
  • Surgical clips or coils to stabilize weaknesses in blood vessel walls are treatment options for those experiencing a hemorrhagic stroke, which causes bleeding in the brain.
  • Balloon angioplasty and mesh screens called stents may help open up a blocked blood vessel and prevent a stroke from occurring in the first place.

Three simple questions that can uncover stroke

Is someone you know having a stroke? Ask them these questions:

  1. “Can you smile?” One side of the face may droop.
  2. “Can you raise both arms?” One may drift downward.
  3. “Can you repeat this simple phrase?” Speech may sound slurred or odd. If you notice any of these stroke warning signs, call for emergency assistance right away.

Telemedicine technology

Telemedicine makes it possible for healthcare providers to “see” patients remotely with the help of computers, cameras and even robots. It allows local medical staff to collaborate closely with specialists, even when they are miles apart.
Baptist Hospitals of Southeast Texas is always working to bring the latest advancements to our community. Our telemedicine opportunities are rapidly expanding with the potential to improve care in cost-efficient ways and will help healthcare providers work together to provide personalized care, close to home.

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