What We Can Do for a Stroke That We Couldn’t Do 10 Years Ago

In the past, few treatment options existed to stop a stroke, especially if the patient didn’t make it to the hospital within the critical three-hour window of time. Depending on the type of stroke and the amount of time until treatment begins, the effects of a stroke can be devastating.

And while strokes are still a serious health event, thanks to new technology, a stroke can be stopped for some patients.

Using a procedure similar to a cardiac catheterization, a neurointerventionalist can insert a wire into the blocked brain vessel to destroy the clot.

“We first use tPA (a clot-busting drug); then, if that doesn’t work, we can go in and suck out the clot,” said Tamer Abdelhak, MD, medical director for neurocritical care at Memorial Medical Center and associate professor of adult neurology and neurocritical care at Southern Illinois University School of Medicine. “This technology has been around for a while, but it is becoming more common for patients who are a good candidate for the procedure.”

As a result, the critical window of time in stroke treatment is expanded from three hours to up to even 8-12 hours for those patients.

Even with these new advancements in care, strokes are still very serious and require immediate medical attention. If you or someone close to you is showing any signs of a stroke, call 911.

“We’ve come a long way, but a stroke is not to be taken lightly,” Dr. Abdelhak said “They can cause permanent damage or even death. Minutes still can make a difference in patient outcomes. The most important thing is to get to the hospital as soon as possible.”

How can you spot signs of a stroke? Better yet, do you know your risk factors and how to prevent a stroke? Check out Memorial’s stroke center’s online resources to learn more. You can also hear Dr. Abdelhak explain more. Listen to his recent interview on WTAX radio.