Identifying stroke symptoms and acting quickly to be evaluated by emergency medical personnel is the first step in the treatment of any type of stroke. Calling 911 is a must and has been shown to reduce the time it takes for the stroke patient to receive life saving treatment.
Next, emergency staff will need to determine if a stroke is occurring and if so which major type of stroke is present. Primary stroke centers have been created in many hospitals, which consist of acute stroke teams, which are present 24/7 in order to work with emergency staff to help treat stroke patients.
The doctors at Western Neuro comprise a major part of the acute stroke team at the Carondelet Neurological Institute at St. Joseph’s Hospital.
Non-bleeding strokes can be treated with a FDA approved clot- busting drug called t-PA. Quick investigation in the emergency center can determine if a patient with stroke symptoms is able to receive this drug. T-PA can be associated with severe bleeding complications and therefore can only be used within 3 hours of stroke symptom onset. In rare instances this drug may be used after this time window however best results are associated with its use as a clot buster as soon after stroke symptoms develop.
While not every stroke patient can receive t-PA, patients with stroke are admitted to the hospital and other treatments are implemented. Treatments can include control of vital signs, fluid and electrolyte management, and even surgical treatments to relieve pressure in the nervous system that can result from large strokes. Multiple tests are also performed to help identify the location and cause of the stroke so that the best preventative strategy can be implemented to reduce the risk of recurrent strokes.
In rare circumstances specialists at Western Neuro can recommend that a stroke patient be evaluated for retrieval of clot found in a major artery may be causing stroke. Such clots may not respond quickly enough for t-PA to work and may require the expertise of a vascular neurosurgeon to perform an invasive catheter procedure to help treat stroke.
Bleeding strokes often require close observation in the neurological intensive care unit to identify changes in neurological function that may lead to surgical intervention. Subarachnoid hemorrhages will need their aneurysms treated with either surgical or non-surgical treatment.
Hospital Stay After a Stroke
This answer varies on the type and severity of stroke. Generally, stroke patients can expect a 2-3 day hospital stay to allow initial treatment and investigation of stroke to occur. Patients will often leave the hospital with new medications to help prevent stroke. Following this, factors, which determine when a stroke patient may return home, include what form of rehabilitation are needed and how much assistance they will need. Physical, occupational, and speech therapy are forms of therapy used to help treat stroke patients. Many stroke patients require temporary inpatient hospital rehabilitation or transition to a nursing facility that has supportive therapies.
Resolution of Stroke Symptoms
Depending on the severity and location of one’s stroke recovery of symptoms will vary. There are types of stroke that are associated with very good outcome. It is important to realize that the recovery process is often gradual with the greatest improvement seen in the first 6 months following a stroke. Following up with your doctor and specialists will be important in helping to further prevent stroke and obtaining further assistance to aide in recovery.