Acute Ischemic Stroke
Acute stroke affects nearly 800,000 Americans annually making it the leading cause of disability and the 4th leading cause of death in the United States. About 80% of these strokes are due to a blockage of a blood vessel known as an “ischemic stroke.” This leads to inadequate blood flow to a part of the brain and causes a focal neurological deficit such as speech difficulty, numbness or weakness of an arm or leg, or vision loss. Timely restoration of blood flow to the brain is critical to prevent permanent damage to the affected brain tissue.
Time is brain, which is why rapid decisions are needed in the treatment of acute ischemic stroke. Patients experiencing an acute stroke require expedited diagnostic imaging of the brain and swift evaluation and management. Those who present within 4.5 hours from symptom onset and meeting specific criteria are eligible for a “clot busting” medication known as tissue plasminogen activator (tPA) administered through an IV. Patients who are not eligible for the IV medication may benefit from endovascular therapy using local administration of a medication at the clot in the blood vessel or clot removal with a device.
Knowing the signs and symptoms of stroke is important. A way to remember the stroke signs is F.A.S.T.:
- Face: Ask the person to smile to determine if one side of the face droops.
- Arms: Ask the person to raise both arms to determine if one drifts down.
- Speech: Ask the person to repeat a simple phrase to determine if speech is clear or not.
- Time: Call 911 immediately with any of these signs.
Act F.A.S.T. and call 911 immediately.
More information is available from the National Stroke Association