Dr. Seemant Chaturvedi, M.D.
Director, DMC Comprehensive Stroke Center
DMC Detroit Receiving Hospital (DRH)
(part 3 of a 3-part series)
In the last two weeks, Dr. Chaturvedi has described the significant advantages of the stroke treatment program at Detroit Receiving Hospital, the advanced skills of the neurology team and their ability to help under very difficult circumstances. He spoke of the program’s dedicated focus and the availability of a neurocritical intensive care unit—a special advantage for stroke patients. This week, Dr. Chaturvedi identifies next steps when you suspect stroke symptoms in a loved one.
"Quick Response Enables Stroke Patients to Recover with Full Capabilities"
As we reported in the previous two weeks’ columns, there are state-of-the-art, highly advanced treatments at Detroit Receiving Hospital that prevent a stroke from causing the damage associated with lengthy rehabilitation. But for the treatments to be most effective, the patient must arrive at the emergency room as quickly as possible after the onset of symptoms. Advanced drugs like tPA must be administered within three hours after the onset of symptoms. Advanced technologies, like the Merci Clot Retriever and the Penumbra are effective if the patient arrives within eight hours of symptom onset. All of these require the skills of interventional neurologists to be successful. The only such specialists in the state and the region are at Detroit Receiving Hospital.
Once you are convinced your loved one is having a stroke, call an ambulance—do not try to drive the patient yourself. Advanced life support ambulances can start an IV that will help prepare the patient for the angiogram, the procedure or drug treatment necessary once he or she reaches the emergency room.
When symptoms of stroke appear, many well educated and intelligent people will go into denial. Some patients with a severe headache, if it’s near bedtime, will "sleep on it," hoping it will go away. During the day, they often wait for the pain to go away on its own. The best option is to have it medically checked to rule out a stroke, because if it is a stroke, every minute counts.
Familiarize yourself with the symptoms:
- Sudden severe headache with no known cause
- Sudden numbness or weakness of the face, arm or leg, especially on only one side of the body
- Sudden confusion or trouble speaking or understanding
- Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes
- Sudden trouble walking
- Sudden dizziness, loss of balance or lack of coordination
If you’re in doubt, the DMC offers a 24/7 nurse answering service, at 1-888-DMC-2500. While this phone call will not replace a physician examination, it will help you assess the patient’s condition for next steps.
For more information or to consult with a Detroit Receiving neurologist, call (313) 745-1540.
For more information on stroke prevention and general health information, please visit our DMC Health Library page at http://www.dmc.org/healthlibrary.
Dr. Seemant Chaturvedi is Professor of Neurology at Wayne State University School of Medicine and Director of the Wayne State/Detroit Medical Center Comprehensive Stroke Program. He received his undergraduate degree from Princeton University, completed medical school at the University of Connecticut, a neurology residency at the University of Massachusetts Medical Center, and a stroke fellowship at the University of Western Ontario.
Dr. Chaturvedi has co-edited the books Transient Ischemic Attacks in 2004 and Carotid Artery Stenosis: Current and Emerging Treatments in 2005. He was chairman of the American Academy of Neurology carotid endarterectomy guidelines committee, with the guidelines published in 2005. He is currently on the steering committee of several stroke prevention studies. His research interests include carotid revascularization, intracranial atherosclerosis, and stroke in young adults.