July 24, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

Stroke Symptoms—Call a Plumber!

(Courtesy of SMGH) “I can hear it now,” said George Matyjewicz, Ph.D., community liaison at St. Mary’s General Hospital. “Are you meshuggeneh? Call a plumber for a stroke patient? Yes, call a ‘brain plumber’—Dr. Jeffrey Farkas and his team at Interventional Neuro Associates[1]. That’s what we did at St. Mary’s General Hospital when a young woman came to our E.R. with signs of stroke. A blocked blood vessel that deprives the brain of blood is the cause of ischemic stroke.

Upon arrival, the ER physician quickly assessed the patient and sent her for a stat C.T. scan of the head and a C.T. Angiogram (C.T.A.). The C.T.A. images were evaluated by the artificial intelligence (A.I.) program for a blockage. The A.I. identified a blockage and alerted Dr. Farkas and his team so they could go into action. SPEED is the key here; ‘time is brain,’ every minute counts. Doctor Farkas performed the thrombectomy procedure. He guided a catheter through the arteries to the brain and removed the clot with a device called a stent-retriever. Blood flow was restored to the brain, and like a miracle, the patient went home back to normal a few days later!”

“I have been doing thrombectomies for the past 20 years,” said Dr. Farkas. “It wasn’t until 2015 when several studies [2] demonstrated, without a doubt, that this is the best procedure to help stroke patients with a large vessel occlusion. Tissue Plasminogen Activator (tPA)[3] “the clot-busting medication” is still an important treatment that can be injected into a vein so it can get to the blood clot quickly and start working. If the tPA does not work, we can still go in and open the vessel. It is analogous to a blocked sink. Many will try to use Drano on the clog; if it doesn’t work, you need to call the plumber. Before Dr. Farkas and his experienced team performed thrombectomies at St Mary’s General, patients with a stroke would have to be transferred to another hospital for the procedure, and this caused a delay in treatment. The faster the blood flow is restored, the better the outcome. Dr. Farkas and his team will do everything possible to restore blood flow to the brain as fast as possible to limit the damage.

I can’t emphasize enough the importance of speed.

If Hatzolah or any ambulance service has a stroke patient, that patient should be brought to the closest facility that can perform thrombectomies like St. Mary’s General. Stroke patients have only one chance to get better. Not all hospitals have this capability. Hospitals have to treat these patients as if they are the only patient in the hospital. St Mary’s General has created a critical team that works together to treat stroke fast and efficiently from the moment the patient is identified.

Dr. Farkas has been practicing since 1999 and now has eight doctors working with him, all ready 24/7 to prevent permanent brain damage in people who have strokes or vascular problems in blood vessels.

If your arteries or veins to the brain are blocked or leaking blood, they use their skills to stop it and prevent and or limit the damage. They have a variety of procedures that are minimally invasive to fix blood vessel problems, such as brain aneurysms, without the need to have traditional brain surgery.

The doctors at Interventional Neuro Associates work at major academic medical centers in N.Y.C. in addition to all the Prime Healthcare hospitals in NJ[4]. When it comes to stroke, they bring their skill and expertise to the local hospitals to serve the community—less time to get to the hospital and less wait time in the ER. The patients are treated on-site, saving a tremendous amount of time and brain.

“At our last B.O.D. meeting, C.E.O. Ed Condit introduced this process and the success with the patient,” said Matyjewicz. “One of our B.O.D. members summed it up nicely—it’s a SWAT team! Yes, it is; only their weapons of choice are education, technology for diagnoses and a catheter to control the violent confrontation that the brain has encountered!

Working together with the trained and conditioned ER, Cardiology and Interventional Radiology staff at St. Mary’s General, it is a win-win for everybody!

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.

We are planning on some education webinars for the kehilla on strokes and this process. Dr. Farkas will be our keynote speaker, and you will have the opportunity to ask questions.

Stay tuned.”

Use the FAST test to check for the most common symptoms of a stroke in yourself or someone else. Minutes matter in treating stroke. Calling a doctor or driving to the hospital yourself wastes time. Ambulance workers can judge your situation sooner, and that boosts your chance of getting the treatment you need as soon as possible.

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

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. Mary’s General is a proud member of Prime Healthcare, which has 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] 2015 The Lancet study: “Endovascular thrombectomy after large-vessel ischaemic stroke: a meta-analysis of individual patient data from five randomized trials”

[3] tissue Plasminogen Activator

[4] St. Mary’s General Hospital, St. Michael’s and St. Clare’s

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