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If someone’s life depended on it, could you spot a stroke?

St. John Providence Health System
Neuroscience, Stroke
Friday, May 02, 2014

If someone’s life depended on it, could you spot a stroke?

Media Contact: Brian Taylor, 586-753-0726.

Every 45 seconds, someone in America has a new or recurrent stroke. A stroke is an injury to part of the brain. It is often called a “brain attack”.

“A stroke occurs when blood supply to a part of the brain is interrupted or severely reduced, depriving brain tissue of oxygen and nutrients,” says Richard Fessler, M.D., St. John Providence Health neurosurgeon and director of the Michigan Stroke Network. “Within a few minutes, brain cells begin to die at a rapid rate. This is critical because your body cannot grow new brain cells.”

Stroke is a medical emergency and every second counts. Prompt treatment of a stroke could mean the difference between life and death – or between recovery and disability. Early treatment can minimize damage to your brain and potential disability.

Knowing the signs and symptoms of a stroke may make it possible for you or family member to get prompt treatment. Remember the signs and symptoms of stroke usually occur suddenly - and frequently there is more than one symptom.

If you or someone you know experiences one or more of the signs of stroke, get help immediately. Stroke warning signs are:

  1. Sudden numbness or weakness of the face, arm or leg, especially on one side of the body.
  2. Sudden confusion, trouble speaking or understanding.
  3. Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes.
  4. Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination.
  5. Sudden severe headache with no known cause.

It is important to know the warning signs of stroke. Learn as many stroke symptoms as possible so you can recognize stroke and respond as quickly as possible. If you notice these warning signs, you should:

  1. Note the time the symptoms first occur.
  2. Call 9-1-1 immediately.

“Noting the time when symptoms first appear is important to your healthcare provider because it can affect patient treatment decisions,” says Dr. Bruce Silverman, St. John Providence neurologist. “There are medical treatments with specific guidelines – and ‘interventional’ stroke treatments with separate and distinct guidelines. All treatments that may help reduce the effects of stroke have a common factor of time sensitivity.”

St. John Providence Health has pioneered a program called “Code Stroke”. Through Code Stroke the hospital communicates with a team of stroke experts, including a radiologist, neurologist and neurovascular specialist within minutes of a patient arriving with stroke symptoms at a one of our network hospitals.

“St. John Providence Health System is a national leader in quickly and accurately administering “tPA” to patients - a drug that can literally stop a stroke. This is an important point because with stroke, every second is an opportunity to save brain tissue,” according to Dr. Fessler.

St. John Providence Health stroke centers are certified by the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations (JCAHO) as “Primary Stroke Centers”. This certification program was developed by JCAHO in collaboration with the American Stroke Association. Primary Stroke Center certification recognizes the fact that St. John Providence Health makes exceptional efforts to foster better outcomes for stroke care.

Achievement of certification signifies that the services provided have the critical elements for long-term success in improving outcomes for patients. It is the best signal to the community that the quality care we provide is effectively managed to meet the unique and specialized needs of stroke patients.

To find a St. John Providence Health System physician for your or your family, call us toll free at 866-501-DOCS (3627). We can help you select a physician that is right for you.