Quick Action Can Save Brain Function Loss


More than 800,000 people experience a stroke each year in the United States but many people don’t know that if they receive immediate hospital care, many of the problems from stroke can be treated and the patient can return to normal function. 

A stroke happens when a blockage cuts blood supply off to the brain (ischemic stroke) or a blood vessel ruptures in the brain (hemorrhagic stroke). Ischemic strokes are the most common, accounting for more than 80% of all strokes.

There are many misperceptions about what a stroke is and how effective treatment is, but the most important thing to know is get to the hospital right away.

Signs to look for
Strokes may be difficult to detect but patients usually experience the sudden onset of one or more of these symptoms:
  • Numbness or weakness of any limb
  • Droopy face
  • Confusion
  • Speech difficulty
  • Dizziness
  • Trouble with balance
  • Vision impairment
  • Sudden, massive headaches

Time = brain function
If you experience any of the stroke symptoms, you need to get to the emergency room immediately by calling 9-1-1. Stroke treatment is highly dependent on time. Untreated stroke can lead to death or permanent disability, said Remia Paduga, MD, neurologist and stroke director of Palomar Health.
“Get to the emergency room as soon as possible. Every minute counts. The sooner you are treated, the better your outcome will be.”
Studies show as many as 75% of stroke victims do not get to the hospital in time for treatment to be effective, which results in one in four victims passing away within one year of having a stroke.

Stroke Code Team is awaiting your arrival
In San Diego County, when a paramedic suspects a stroke, the patient is taken to the nearest emergency department that has the capacity and capability to treat a stroke. At Palomar Health, the stroke code team is activated before your arrival. The ED physician and nurse meet you as you arrive and take you immediately to get a CAT scan. Together with the neurologist they determine your stroke treatment plan.

The treatment for the most common type of stroke is TPA (tissue plasminogen activator), a drug administered through the veins to break up blood clots. If the stroke is big, this medication is followed by mechanical extraction of the blood clot in the brain. This procedure is done by threading a catheter through an artery that goes from the groin to the brain. This non-invasive procedure is one of the most effective, safest and newest treatments in the world of medicine. Palomar Medical Center Escondido can deliver both types of treatment.

Palomar Medical Centers in Escondido and Poway are both JHACO certified stroke centers. Palomar Health has received several awards for stroke care from the American Heart Association (AHA), Healthgrades and Leapfrog.

To help you remember the signs to look for during Stroke Awareness Month in May, advocates are promoting the acronym B.E.F.A.S.T. which stands for:
  • B – Balance (sudden loss of it)
  • E – Eyes (sudden trouble seeing)
  • F – Face (droopy)
  • A – Arm (weakness of arm)
  • S – Speech (slurred)
  • T – Time (call 9-1-1 immediately)

Virtual Class Available
Dr. Remia Paduga is hosting a live, virtual class on Friday, May 21 at 2 p.m. She will provide tools to manage risk factors to prevent strokes and signs to identify if you are having a stroke. She will also share available treatments. Register now.

Photo: Learn the warning signs for stroke and get immediate hospital care

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