Last week, I wrote about a client who had a stroke and needed my assistance. Mary, age 64, developed a sudden loss of speech and had some weakness on her right side. She had been visiting with friend in Atlanta, Georgia and was taken to a nearby emergency room. Over the course of the next few hours, she was evaluated by the emergency room staff, but there was a delay in getting her into a CT scanner to determine if she was having a stroke from a blood clot or a ruptured blood vessel. Approximately 85% of strokes are the result of a blood clot in the brain.

That time delay was costly to Mary and may have been the cause for her limited recovery. The American Stroke Association reminds us that we need to act FAST if we suspect a stroke is occurring. The first three hours after symptoms begin is a critical window of opportunity to possibly reverse the long-term damage of a stroke.

If you or a loved one experience sudden loss of the ability to speak clearly, have weakness or loss of use on one side of your body, you need to act quickly. Call 9-1-1 to get to a hospital—EMS can transport you to a hospital that provides acute stroke care and can notify the hospital that the patient is coming.

The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke has developed a comprehensive algorithm for critical time goals in patients with a suspected stroke. For strokes caused by a clot, they recommend the following:

  1.    Within 10 minutes of arrival to the hospital, you should be evaluated by a physician or the stroke team to include the order for an urgent CT scan.
  2.    A neurological assessment and CT scan should be performed within 25 minutes of arrival.
  3.    The CT scan should be reviewed within 45 minutes of arrival.
  4.    Fibrinolytic therapy (clot buster medication) should be started within 1 hour of hospital arrival and within three hours from the onset of symptoms. In patients with low risk for bleeding, the medication is approved to be given up to 4.5 hours after the onset of symptoms.
  5.    The patient should be admitted to the intensive care unit within three hours of arrival to the emergency department.

The chances for survival from a stroke are much greater when you get to the emergency department quickly. If treatment is started within three hours of symptoms, you can reduce the chance of serious lifelong disability.

Severino Health Advisors offers help in your post-stroke recovery period by attending follow up medical appointments, assisting you to find in-home caregivers, arranging home modifications, and helping you understand your medical bills. Call us today so that we can help you or a loved one.