The Doctor Is In: Stroke Awareness

Content is sponsored by Henry Ford Health System 

Every year in the U.S. about 800,000 people have a stroke.  While many procedures and drugs are helping people survive, strokes remain the number one cause of serious, long-term disability.  In April, there was a new study that came out saying more Americans under the age of 65 are suffering strokes.  May is Stroke Awareness month. On Wednesday, join Deena Centofanti and Dr. Stephan Mayer from Henry Ford Health System as they discuss stroke awareness and answer your questions.

Our Expert:
Dr. Stephan Mayer, Chair of Neurology for Henry Ford Health System.

Dr. Mayer says don't ignore what he calls that "Uh oh" feeling.  Symptoms can be very subtle at the start, then snowball.  Often, the person having the stroke doesn't know what's happening and can't respond.  That makes bystanders or family members and friends the most important key to survival. You can't say this enough.

So what's actually happening during a stroke?
One of the most common causes is a blood clot that blocks the normal flow of blood to the brain. This interruption of blood flow cuts off the brain's oxygen supply; the brain literally begins to die.

The main challenge with stroke is always the clock. Every minute translates into millions of neurons lost.

The new standard of care for the most severe strokes involves two main things:

1) The drug commonly known as tPA.  Administered within the first 4 ½ hours of a stroke onset, it also targets those clots and improves blood flow.  Henry Ford served as the national coordinating center and one of the primary sites for the clinical trials for tPA. The results appeared in the New England Journal of Medicine and changed the way hospitals cared for stroke patients nationwide.

2) Thrombectomy. A tiny catheter travels directly into the brain, effectively stopping a stroke as it's happening. These endovascular techniques with catheters are capable of dissolving and retrieving the clots and restoring the normal blood flow in seconds.

Advances are being made all the time through clinical trials, and research.

Henry Ford Health is using mobile devices in the emergency care process, linking the standard of care we talked about with a text message based system. The whole care team is involved: doctors in the receiving ER can receive secure images and communications from the field before the patient even arrives. That way, the team knows exactly what to expect.

Henry Ford Health also offers clinical trials for treatment.  Many of these trials involve testing alternatives to tPA that expands the window of time for treatment. tPA can be given only within the first 4 ½ hours.