Speedy Stroke Treatment Saves Lives

April 01, 2014

There’s a saying in medicine about stroke care: Time lost is brain lost. Stroke treatment at Henry Ford West Bloomfield Hospital’s Emergency Department (ED) is designed to address this reality.

“We have protocols in place to ensure patients receive the fastest and most effective stroke care possible,” says Panayiotis Mitsias, M.D., director, Stroke Center at Henry Ford West Bloomfield. The hospital is certified as a Primary Stroke Center by DNV Healthcare, a leading health care accrediting agency.

Rapid diagnosis

The diagnostic process begins the moment patients enter the ED.

“We evaluate them using the National Institutes of Health Stroke Scale to determine how severe the stroke is, based on their symptoms,” Dr. Mitsias says.

Next, patients undergo a computed tomography (CT) scan to define the type of stroke (ischemia vs. bleeding) and the extent of tissue affected.

“This helps us rule out other conditions that could be causing symptoms, like an aneurysm or tumor,” Dr. Mitsias says.

Henry Ford West Bloomfield takes a unique approach. The hospital has a group dedicated to treating patients with stroke, called the Ford Acute Stroke Team (FAST). When a patient in the ED shows signs of a stroke, the team of stroke neurologists and emergency stroke physicians springs into action.

Advanced stroke care is here

Using the CT results, the team works together to determine the best course of treatment. Patients whose symptoms started within 4½ hours may be candidates for a medication called tissue plasminogen activator (tPA), which can dissolve the clot. If the duration of symptoms exceeds that time frame or if patients are on anticoagulants and have a large vessel blockage, other approaches, such as endovascular methods, could be offered to suitable candidates.

“Our goal is to keep the time from presentation to treatment less than 60 minutes in order to minimize disability and preserve as much brain function as possible,” Dr. Mitsias says.

Remember the key elements: FAST

  • Face Ask the person to smile. Does one side of the face droop?
  • Arm Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm drift down?
  • Speech Ask the person to repeat a phrase. Is speech slurred or strange?
  • Time If you see any of these signs, call 911 right away.

Talk with an Expert

If you suspect you or your loved one is having a stroke, please call 911 or go to the Henry Ford West Bloomfield ED. For more information or to schedule a consult with a stroke expert, visit Stroke.