Slowing the Clock: Stroke Treatment Window Expanded
Fast treatment is essential for people who experience a stroke. And now, the “golden window” for stroke treatments has been extended from six to 24 hours in some patients, a boon for stroke patients, say stroke experts at Lehigh Valley Hospital (LVH)−Cedar Crest.
The increased time to remove blood clots that cause strokes is important because witnesses may not discover a patient’s symptoms, such as slurred speech, facial drooping and arm weakness, until after the traditional time frame for treatment has passed. Additionally, they may not go immediately to a hospital like LVH− Cedar Crest that offers the indicated treatment for large-vessel brain artery blockages.
New treatment guidelines
The American Heart Association and American Stroke Association issued new treatment guidelines after studies showed that brain imaging allows doctors to determine which patients would benefit from opening large-vessel occlusions after the established Darryn Shaff, MD Neurointerventional radiology six-hour window expired. As a nationally recognized, high-volume comprehensive stroke center, LVH−Cedar Crest has both the technology and the expert health care team to provide this emergency treatment, known as a mechanical thrombectomy, or blood clot removal.
“This is a massive change that means we can now treat far more patients with a potentially lifesaving procedure,” says Darryn Shaff, MD, Chief of Neurointerventional Radiology at Lehigh Valley Health Network (LVHN). “With stroke, earlier is always better so it’s critical that hospitals send patients with large-vessel occlusions to centers that can perform the thrombectomy procedure.”
Specialized stroke treatment
The stroke team at LVH−Cedar Crest treats a high number of stroke patients each year. Published research indicates that high-volume centers obtain better outcomes. A recent study released at the International Stroke Conference found that patients with large-vessel stroke syndromes who were taken directly to a comprehensive stroke center had significantly better outcomes than similar patients taken to the nearest hospital or primary stroke center.
In this study, patients also received care faster at the comprehensive stroke center, even when getting there required additional drive time. Ultimately, it is critical to take the right patient, to the right hospital, at the right time.