July 24, 2024
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How Do I Spot a Stroke?

(Courtesy of SMGH) “Our last article on ‘Stroke Symptoms? Call a Plumber’ got a lot of comments from readers,” said George Matyjewicz, PhD, community liaison at St. Mary’s General Hospital. “And yes, some did say I was meshuggeneh! Until they learned more about our Stroke Center and the ‘Brain Plumber’: Dr. Jeffrey Farkas and his team at Interventional Neuro Associates.1 Most of the feedback was more positive, including “How Do I Spot a Stroke?”

With a stroke, every second counts. Minutes could mean the difference between recovery and permanent disability. In the United States, 795,000 people have a stroke every year, with someone having a stroke every 40 minutes. Stroke is the leading cause of long-term disability in the United States and the fourth leading cause of death. Yet, 37% of Americans cannot accurately identify even one stroke warning sign.



F.A.S.T. is an easy way to remember the sudden signs of a stroke. When you can spot the signs, you’ll know quickly that you need to call 911 for help.

Face Drooping. Does one side of the face droop or is it numb? Ask the person to smile.

Arm Weakness. Is one arm weak or numb? Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm drift downward?

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?

Time to call 911. If the person shows any of these symptoms, even if the symptoms go away, call Hatzolah or 911 and get them to the hospital immediately.

Other symptoms to look for:

Sudden numbness or weakness of the leg

Sudden confusion or trouble understanding

Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes

Sudden trouble walking, dizziness or loss of balance or coordination

Sudden severe headache with no known cause

TIME IS BRAIN. The sooner a stroke victim gets to the hospital, the sooner they’ll get lifesaving treatment.


What Is a Stroke?

Stroke is a disease that affects the arteries leading to and within the brain. A stroke occurs when a blood vessel that carries oxygen and nutrients to the brain is either blocked by a clot, or bursts (or ruptures). When that happens, part of the brain cannot get the blood (and oxygen) it needs, so brain cells die. Strokes can be ischemic (a blockage, 87%) or hemorrhagic (a bleed, 13%). Sometimes a TIA or transient ischemic attack occurs, also known as a “warning stroke” or “mini-stroke” that produces stroke-like symptoms.A TIA is a medical emergency! Immediately call Hatzolah or 911! Check the time so you’ll know when the first symptoms appeared.

With a stroke, every second counts. Minutes could mean the difference between recovery and permanent disability—even death—for stroke victims. Prime Healthcare New Jersey’s hospitals provide patients with exceptional care by a multidisciplinary team of award-winning vascular neurologists, known as stroke doctors, using the latest technology for the fastest diagnoses and treatment of strokes—all to increase the chances of recovery.


Speed and Expertise: Diagnostics

As soon as an ambulance team arrives, care begins. Paramedics conduct a special stroke assessment and call in the results to the emergency department while they speed to the hospital.

Our emergency medicine doctors and nurses are waiting at the emergency room, ready to bring the patient for a brain scan and/or other imaging. Other tests are also performed.

Then vascular neurologists take the lead. As the patient undergoes the stroke CT diagnostic test, advanced technology allows the neurologist to simultaneously see exactly what is happening inside the patient’s brain so not a second is lost.

Once the specific diagnosis is made, the stroke team develops a plan for removing the cause of the stroke as quickly as possible.

Emergency treatment for stroke depends on whether you’re having an ischemic stroke or a stroke that involves bleeding into the brain (hemorrhagic). To treat an ischemic stroke, doctors must quickly restore blood flow to your brain. Emergency treatment of hemorrhagic stroke focuses on controlling the bleeding and reducing pressure in your brain caused by the excess fluid.

With an ischemic stroke, doctors will give you emergency IV medication called tPA2 that can break up a clot, which has to be given within four and a half hours from when symptoms first started. Or doctors may have to perform emergency endovascular procedures where a long, thin tube (catheter) is passed through an artery in your groin and threaded to your brain to deliver tPA or to remove the clot with a stent retriever.

Emergency treatment of hemorrhagic stroke focuses on controlling the bleeding and reducing pressure in your brain caused by the excess fluid. Emergency measures may include medications, surgery, endovascular embolization (coiling), AVM removal or stereotactic radiosurgery—all designed to control the bleeding and stabilize the patient.


Stroke Recovery and Rehabilitation

Every person’s stroke recovery is different. Depending on your condition, your treatment team may include a neurologist (doctor trained in brain conditions), physiatrist (rehabilitation doctor), dietitian, physical and/or occupational therapist, speech pathologist or behavioral health specialist. Most important is knowing that you are in the hands of experts who took action FAST!

To learn more about this procedure or more information visit our Stroke Information Center https://www.smh-nj.com/stroke/

St. Mary’s General Hospital—nationally recognized, locally preferred—among the top hospitals in America for health, quality, and patient safety. A center of excellence for maternal-child, the hospital has over 550 physicians and 1,200 employees, with every staff member committed to providing respectful, personalized, high-quality care—to satisfy patients’ needs and exceed their expectations. St. Marys General is a proud member of Prime Healthcare, which has had more Patient Safety Excellence Award recipients for five consecutive years (2016-2020) than any other health system in the country, including a “Top 15 Healthcare System” by Truven Health Analytics. To learn more about St. Mary’s General Hospital, visit https://www.smh-nj.com/ or Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/StMarysGeneral.

For more information, please contact George Matyjewicz, PhD, community liaison at [email protected].

1 https://www.intneuro.org/

2 tissue plasminogen activator

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