Stroke: Time Is Of The Essence

For anyone who has had a stroke, “time lost is brain lost,” according to Dr. Jeffrey L. Saver, a professor of neurology at the University of California, Los Angeles, and a member of the American Stroke Association/American Heart Association.

            In fact, during every minute immediately following a stroke, two million neurons (brain cells) die, making immediate medical intervention critical.

            A “mini-stroke” – a transient ischemic attack (TIA) – may serve as a life-saving and critical early warning sign of a greater and more devastating stroke to follow.      

            That’s the word from Dr. Peter M. Rothwell, a professor of clinical neurology at the University of Oxford (England) and senior author of a study in the June 2, 2009 issue of American Academy of Neurology’s journal Neurology.

            The study authors note that if you’ve had a TIA you should “seek medical attention immediately, particularly if you have either weakness or speech disturbance that lasts more than ten minutes.

            “Don’t wait until the next day – it may be too late.”

            A Tia is a momentary blockage of blood flow in an artery of the brain and researchers found that about half of all the recurrent strokes in the seven days after a TIA occur in the first 24 hours – highlighting the need for emergency medical/neurological assessments.  

            An emergency assessment should include the “ABCD” stroke risk factors:

·         A – Age over 60

·         B – Blood pressure reading that is high

·         C – Clinical symptoms of physical weakness

·         D – Duration of the TIA

 

            A stroke is a medical emergency in which every second counts. Among the signs of a stroke are:

·         –Sudden numbness or weakness of the face, arm or leg, especially on one side of the body.

·         –Sudden confusion, trouble speaking or understanding

·         –Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes

·         –Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination

·         –Sudden, severe headache with no known cause

 

            For more information on the warning signs of a stroke and what to do, see: http://www.strokeassociation.org/presenter.jhtml?identifier=1020

             The risk of a major stroke can be reduced by up to 80 percent by initiating standard treatment – aspirin plus or minus clopidogrel [Plavix], statin therapy, blood pressure reduction –  immediately after a TIA.  Clopidogrel and aspirin are aimed at the clots that cause a stroke by blocking a brain artery. Statins are drugs such as Crestor, Lipitor and Zocor that lower blood cholesterol levels.

            For more information, see: http://healthday.com/Article.asp?AID=627567

             According to a new analysis published in the May 28 online issue of Stroke, a potent blood clot-dissolving drug – tissue plasminogen activator (tPA) – can be given up to four-and-a-half hours after the symptoms of a stroke.  The study extends by 50 percent the previous 30 hour recommendation.

             For more information, see: http://healthday.com/Article.asp?AID=627496

Francis J. (Skip) Flynn, Psy. D.
7740 Southwest 52 Avenue
Miami, Florida 33143
(305) 271-0973

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