Each year, half a million Americans have a stroke. In fact it is the third leading cause of death and the leading cause of disability in adults.
A stroke, or brain attack, occurs when a blood vessel bursts (hemorrhagic) or is blocked (ischemic), interrupting the blood supply to the brain. Either type of stroke can be deadly and/or disabling. High risk factors for stoke include: persistent high blood pressure, heart disease, high cholesterol, diabetes, a family history or age 65 or older.
Stroke is a medical emergency. Know the signs and call 911 immediately. Click here to learn about the risks and signs of stroke.
Community leader in stroke prevention and treatment
St. Joseph Mercy Oakland has a complete range of services and dedicated resources to educate, diagnose, treat and manage stroke. From its educational resources to tPA capabilities and its dedicated unit for stroke patients, St. Joseph Mercy is truly the community leader in combating this disease.
Clot busting drug that may reverse a stroke
At St. Joseph Mercy Oakland, the process of care for someone who has had a stroke begins when EMS is enroute to our emergency department. The EMS staff radio the ER (emergency room) physician of the patient's condition and the estimated time of arrival. When the patient arrives, the ER physician evaluates the patient and orders an emergent CAT scan of the brain. The neurologist is called. A radiologist (available 24 hours a day) reads the CAT scan and immediately reports results to the ER physician. The neurologist and ER physician ultimately decide whether the patient should be given. tPA, a drug that can reverse a stroke in progress. This treatment is for strokes that are caused by a blocked blood vessel (80 percent of all strokes). The remaining 20 percent of strokes occur from a burst or ruptured blood vessel and may require surgery
When blood supply is restored to the brain tissue, normal functioning may be protected. If the circulation of oxygen and nutrients to the brain is not restored, the cells begin to die. When the tissue of the brain dies, the stroke victim may then be unable to swallow, speak or move one side of his or her body.
How tPA (Actevase) works
The treatment, tPA, breaks clots apart and restores blood flow to the brain. It must be given within three hours of the onset of the stroke symptoms. The results of successful tPA treatment are dramatic. One in three patients shows tremendous improvement after receiving this medication.
The drug tPA is a powerful blood thinner. Some reasons for not being able to receive the treatment are: time lapse longer than three hours from onset of symptoms, recent surgery, uncontrolled high blood pressure, a previous stroke, and recent trauma or bleeding.
Full range of care
Besides our commitment to community education and treatment with tPA, St. Joseph Mercy Oakland has a comprehensive stroke programs including a dedicated stroke unit and an aggressive rehabilitation program. Physicians and nurses, highly skilled in stroke assessment and treatment, manage stroke patients on a specialized unit.
All diagnostic tests and consults such as physical therapy, speech pathology and rehabilitation services are done in a timely manner. The stroke treatment team is activated either before the patient leaves the ER or early upon the admission to the stroke unit.
Stroke patients receive physical therapy twice daily, seven days a week. Patients recover better and faster with this aggressive therapy.
Once patients leave St. Joseph Mercy, they may continue their recovery at home with our home-care physical therapists. Also, a stroke support group "Stroke Folks" is offered monthly for patients and their families who have experienced a stroke. For information contact Karen Goodman at (248) 858-3116.
Prevention is key
Most importantly, St. Joseph Mercy Oakland is committed to prevention and screening. If you are interested in stroke information, please call Connie Parliament at 248-858-6502.