On The Quick
Stroke Treatment News
Do you know the current guidelines?
Few areas of modern healthcare are as time-sensitive as stroke care. A few lost minutes can mean the difference between full recovery and permanent disability for stroke patients. That makes it important for all nurses to understand the basics, even if you don’t work in the ER.
Time is Not On Your Side
According to the CDC, stroke-related deaths in the U.S. average about 15 per hour. Most strokes — 87 percent — are ischemic, interrupting blood flow to the brain, which can cause lasting disability even if the patient survives.
The good news is that clinicians have some powerful weapons for treating ischemic stroke. These include tissue plasminogen activator (tPA) drugs, which can dissolve the blood clots that cause stroke, and mechanical thrombectomy, which uses a device called a stent retriever to actually grab and remove the clot.
While those therapies can be very effective, they must be used quickly. Current American Heart Association (AHA) guidelines call for tPA and thrombectomy within six hours of a stroke. A recent study from UCLA, published in JAMA in September, found that these techniques can be beneficial for up to 7.3 hours, but the window for best outcomes is only two hours.
To help patients recognize the signs of stroke in time to act, the American Stroke Association and Medtronic have created an easy-to-remember acronym: FAST, which stands for Face drooping; Arm weakness; Speech difficulty; Time to call 911. Other stroke symptoms may include severe headache, sudden dizziness, numbness in one side of the body or difficulty seeing.
UCLA Stroke Center Director Jeffrey Saver, M.D., the JAMA study’s lead author, also stresses the importance of directing patients to hospitals equipped to handle acute stroke. Southern California facilities so equipped include Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center, Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, St. Jude Medical Center in Fullerton, UC Irvine Medical Center in Orange and UC San Diego Medical Center.
You can find more information about stroke at www.cdc.gov/stroke or the American Stroke Association website, www.strokeassociation.org. The AHA also offers digital reference guides for clinicians at professional.heart.org.
This article is from workingnurse.com.