The Primary Stroke Center at Northern Nevada Medical Center
Stroke—When Minutes Matter
If you or someone around you experiences the signs of possible stroke, don't delay. Call 911 and go to the nearest hospital as quickly as possible.
Stroke is a medical emergency that affects the brain. It is the third leading cause of death and the leading cause of disability in the United States. Healthcare professionals know that "time lost is brain lost," so it is critical to obtain medical care as soon as the signs of a stroke become apparent.
In the emergency department, a stroke response team that includes an experienced neurologist assesses the patient, decides if the patient has had a stroke and determines what the best treatment options are. Team members assess each patient, determine if he or she has had a stroke and decide on appropriate treatment options. The stroke response team may use teleneurology, an innovative system that allows neurologists to diagnose stroke and recommend treatment even when they are not at the hospital. Because teleneurology brings physicians right to a patient's bedside, this can result in faster diagnostic testing and treatment.
Stroke is treatable, usually with a medication called tissue plasminogen activator (tPA) that helps break clots and can lessen the lasting effects of a stroke. Intravenous tPA is recommended only if it can be administered within three hours of the onset of stroke warning signs, so if you see someone showing signs of a possible stroke, it is important to note the time the signs first appeared.
Recovery from a stroke cannot be easily predicted and may affected by a number of factors, including the rapidity of recovery after the symptoms began, the severity of the symptoms, the size of the stroke and the cause of the stroke. Only about 20 percent of stroke patients have near to full recovery.
Long-term treatment and care for stroke patients may include medication, physical therapy, and changes in personal lifestyle (tobacco cessation, dietary changes, daily exercise, etc.). For most patients, this can be done through outpatient rehabilitation and coordinated care between the neurologist and a primary care physician, but may require some time in a rehabilitation hospital. Caseworkers can help patients and families through this process, because it is often family support that keeps the recovery process on track after a patient returns home.
Act F.A.S.T.: Warning Signs of Possible Stroke
Because stroke presents in any number of ways, the initial signs are often difficult to recognize, but most commonly include the following in isolation or in combination:
- Facial droop / uneven smile
- Sudden severe headache with no known cause
- Sudden double vision or trouble with vision
- Arm (or leg) weakness or numbness
- Loss of balance or coordination,
- Sudden dizziness or trouble walking
- Slurred speech
- Trouble speaking or understanding
- Sudden confusion
- CALL 911 immediately