How can stroke outcomes be improved?

Over the past 30 years, improvements in the treatment of heart attack have dramatically reduced the number of deaths and disabilities caused by heart attack, which occurs when blood flow to the heart muscle is blocked.

Now, new treatments are available that may also revolutionize stroke care.

The medical community is taking aim at improving the outcomes for stroke, currently the third leading cause of death and the leading cause of adult disabilities in the United States.

Stroke outcomes can be improved if:

Americans become much more aware of the warning signs of stroke - and of the urgent need for medical help if they experience one or more of them;Emergency medical and hospital admissions systems are established to ensure that anyone with stroke symptoms is taken to a stroke center and treated as soon as possible;More physicians are trained in interventional procedures to treat stroke. In interventional procedures, a physician inserts a catheter (a thin tube) into an artery in the leg, arm or neck and guides it through the blood vessels to the site in the brain that is narrowed or blocked. He or she then delivers devices or other therapies through the catheter to open the blocked vessel and restore blood flow. More cardiologists are trained in neuro-rescue procedures that allow physicians to remove clots from the brain using interventional techniques and newly clot-retrieval devices. Attached to a tiny wire, the device is inserted via a catheter through a very small cut in the femoral artery in the groin, or upper thigh, and advanced to the carotid artery in the neck. (The carotid arteries supply the brain with blood and a stroke can result when the arteries are blocked.) The wire is threaded through the clot. When the device is deployed, its coiled wire forms a “basket” around the clot, allowing the physician to pull the whole clot from the body and restore blood flow to the brain.

Dr. Steven A. Meyers, MD
Diagnostic Radiologist

The most important way to improve outcome is to limit the damage the stroke causes. This requires rapid medical treatment which is why it is critical that a stroke victim seeks immediate medical attention.

Immediately after a stroke several measures can be taken to try to lessen the size of the stroke, including the use of clot busting medications in select patients.

Avoiding medical complications such as infections and blood clots during recovery is important. Strokes can impair the ability to swallow leading to lung infections so a stroke patient may not be able eat immediately after the stroke. Medications may be given to prevent blood clots forming in the legs due to lack of movement. Rehabilitation specialists such as physical, occupational and speech therapists will begin working with the patient as soon as possible after the stroke which has been shown to improve the outcome as well.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.