New Stroke Responses
February 24, 2018
The American Heart Association (AHA) and American Stroke Association (ASA) issued new treatment guidelines for individuals who experience ischemic strokes. Under the new regulations, certain patients are now eligible to receive not only one but two different medical treatments, both of which could help save lives and reduce the number of common disabilities associated with stroke.
Ischemic strokes are the most commonly occurring kind of stroke. They are caused by obstructions within the blood vessels that are supposed to be supplying oxygen to the brain. According to the ASA, ischemic strokes account for approximately 87% of all stroke cases. Ischemic strokes are caused by an underlying condition, which causes fatty deposits to grow inside the walls of blood vessels. Some typical symptoms of ischemic strokes are:
• Sudden weakness or numbness of the arm, leg or face – especially on one side of the body;
• Loss of vision in one or both eyes;
• Sudden, severe headache lacking a known cause;
• Sudden confusion, difficulty understanding and/or trouble speaking, and:
• Trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination
To learn more about the signs and symptoms of an ischemic stroke (and other types of strokes), please visit: https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/stroke/symptoms-causes/syc-20350113.
The AHA and ASA are pushing two lifesaving procedures: a mechanical thrombectomy and an intravenous blood clot-dissolving medication called alteplase. During a mechanical thrombectomy, doctors use a device to thread through blood vessels to mechanically remove lethal blood clots. Although alteplase is the only medication on the market approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to dissolve blood clots, many patients were not approved for use in the past; the new guidelines relax the eligibility requirements for the drug’s approved uses.
Strokes are one of the leading causes behind disabilities in adults and are the second-leading cause of death on a global level. The AHA reports that strokes kill 133,000 Americans annually, which means that approximately every 40 seconds someone has one. It is paramount to come up with more advanced and effective forms of treatment so that the rate of disabilities and deaths are reduced. Identifying and treating strokes quickly often makes the difference between life and death and can also leave people with better chances for being able to live independently after having a stroke.
The AHA and ASA’s new guidelines not only encourage treating a greater number of patients with alteplase, but also to do so more quickly. Previous hospital standards called for administering the intravenous medication within a 60-minute window; the new ones call on doctors to administer the medication within 45 minutes of an ischemic stroke diagnosis. The guidelines instruct that medical thrombectomies – a form of mechanical clot removals – should be more routinely considered for patients with blood clots in large arteries inside the head. Patients with limited oxygen supplies to the brain are more likely to experience disability or death if not treated quickly and effectively, which is why the AHA/ASA are pushing for a more routine surgical solution.
Even though strokes are one of the leading causes for disability, the ASA wants to remind everyone that the disabilities are often preventable. Here are some important facts about strokes:
• More women have strokes than men;
• African Americans experience strokes at a disproportionately high rate, and
• Some well-known risk factors for stroke include: high cholesterol, smoking, certain blood disorders, excessive alcohol intake, physical inactivity, obesity, carotid artery disease (and other artery diseases) and diabetes
If you think you may be at risk for having a stroke, talk to your doctor. By making lifestyle or dietary changes, individuals can limit certain risk factors. Thankfully, the AHA and ASA’s new treatment guidelines will help save lives – but it’s still important to be able to recognize the signs of a stroke and to call 9-1-1 right away if you believe you’re witnessing or having one. Doctors say that even if someone isn’t sure whether or not they’re having a stroke that it’s best to go to the hospital and get checked out right away – because even a period as short as 15 minutes can help save someone’s life. If you have any questions or concerns about any injuries or disabilities you sustained due to substandard medical care during a stroke event, please contact a representative at our firm.
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