Henry Ford West Bloomfield Hospital Certified Primary Stroke Center

March 06, 2013


West Bloomfield, Mich. – Stroke patients in western Oakland County can be assured of receiving the latest and fastest treatment at Henry Ford West Bloomfield Hospital, certified as a Primary Stroke Center.

All patients showing symptoms of an acute stroke are evaluated rapidly and treated as a “stroke code”. It’s critical to determine whether or not a patient can receive such therapies as intravenous tPA (tissue plasminogen activator) within one hour of arrival, in compliance with American Heart Association guidelines.

If blood flow to the brain is stopped for longer than a few seconds, the brain cannot get oxygen. When brain cells die, permanent damage can occur.

“During a stroke, the brain loses seven million neurons a minute, so there is no time to lose in seeking medical treatment,” says Panos Mitsias, M.D., stroke neurologist and medical director of the Stroke Center at the West Bloomfield hospital. “At the first sign of a stroke, call 911.”

Many people seeking emergency care for a stroke do not receive optimal treatment, in spite of medical advances in the U.S.

“Approximately five percent of stroke patients in the U.S. receive tPA”, says Dr. Mitsias. “Of these, only 25 - 30 percent are treated within the ‘golden hour,’ the first 60 minutes after arriving at the emergency department. This can be due to delays in diagnosis, testing and treatment, poor coordination of care, or a facility’s inability to deliver appropriate treatment.

Another factor is that t-PA is the only treatment approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for ischemic stroke. Blood clots are the cause of more than 80 percent of all strokes. To be effective, the clot-dissolving drug must be administered in most cases within three hours of initial stroke symptoms.

With timing of treatment so critical, it is important for those who know the patient to be aware of when the first symptoms were noticed.

Appropriate patients who receive the drug within three hours of initial stroke symptoms are at least 30 percent more likely to recover with little or no disability after three months than patients who do not receive t-PA.

The stroke team at the West Bloomfield hospital includes five stroke neurologists, three neurointerventionalists and three neurointensivists, as well as neurosurgeons available for emergency surgeries.

The hospital has a six-bed acute stroke unit, and a 12-bed neuro intensive care unit.

“Patients with moderate to severe strokes who arrive within the first six hours, and do not qualify for intravenous tPA, will receive appropriate treatment,” says Horia Marin, M.D., an interventional neuroradiologist.

Dr. Marin explains that interventional management for stroke patients includes cerebral angiogram, a diagnostic procedure that provides images of the blood vessels in and around the brain. Acute treatment could include injecting small doses of tPA directly into the clot via a catheter and mechanical clot removal by the use of clot-retriever devices. Angioplasty, where a balloon is delivered to a blocked blood vessel through a catheter, which opens the blockage and a metal mesh tube, called a stent, placed to hold the vessel open, is also used to prevent another stroke.

An outpatient stroke clinic aids in the follow-up of patients, to optimize treatments for second stroke prevention and organize long-term rehabilitation with physical and occupational therapists, as well as speech pathologists.

According to the American Heart Association, stroke is the fourth leading cause of death in the U.S. Each year, nearly 700,000 people experience a new or recurrent stroke. On average, someone suffers a stroke every 45 seconds and someone dies of a stroke every three minutes. Stroke is the leading cause of serious, long-term disability in the United States, with about 4.7 million stroke survivors alive today.

When someone may be having a stroke, remember the symptoms and be FAST:

  • Face drooping
  • Arm weakness
  • Speech difficulty
  • Time to call 911

The Primary Stoke Center certification was given by DNV Healthcare, a leading health care accrediting agency. The hospital is located at 6777 W. Maple in West Bloomfield.