Timely Treatment Best Defense in Preventing Damaging Effects of Stroke

Each year there are more than 700,000 strokes in the United States.’ Stroke is the third leading cause of death in the country and can cause more serious long-term disabilities than any other disease.’ But experts at Spectrum Health in Grand Rapids, Michigan say patients can learn to protect themselves.

“When you or a loved one suffers a stroke it can be a frightening and overwhelming experience,” said Gene Wiley, M.D., Medical Director of Neurosciences at Spectrum Health.’ “Fortunately, new treatments can reduce the damage caused by the most common type of stroke but only if treatment is given quickly.’ That’s why it is crucial patients get to a hospital immediately after experiencing symptoms of a stroke.”

A stroke is just as serious as a heart attack. It is sometimes called a “brain attack”.’ According to the National Institutes of Health stroke occurs most often when blood flow to the brain stops because it is blocked by a clot.’ The brain cells in the immediate area begin to die because they stop getting the oxygen and nutrients they need to function.’ This type of stroke is called ischemic stroke.’ Patients can also suffer from a hemorrhagic stroke that is caused by a blood vessel that breaks and bleeds in the brain.

Regardless of the type of stroke, patients need to be able to recognize the symptoms of a stroke.

Symptoms of Stroke

  • Sudden numbness or weakness of the face, arm, leg, especially on one side of the body.
  • Sudden confusion, trouble speaking or understanding speech.
  • Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes.
  • Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination.
  • Sudden severe headache with no known cause.

“Spectrum Health is fortunate to have a stroke response team comprised of physicians, neurologists, pharmacists and emergency department staff,” said Wiley.’ “This team includes pharmacists who are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week to respond to patients who arrive at the ED with stroke symptoms. Members of the response team help determine which patients are candidates for tPA – a drug with proven success in preventing stroke disabilities.”

You can prevent a stroke by lowering your risk factors.

Risk Factors of Stroke

  • High blood pressure – High blood pressure is the leading risk factor for stroke.
  • Diabetes – Having diabetes doubles your risk for stroke because of the circulation problems associated with the disease.
  • Smoking – Daily cigarette smoking can increase the risk of stroke 2_ times.
  • Inactivity – Physical inactivity increases the risk of stroke.
    Source:’Web MD

Spectrum Health Grand Rapids recently was recertified as a Primary Stroke Center by the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations (JCAHO).’ This certification for the Blodgett and Butterworth campuses is based on compliance with national standards, effective use of established guidelines to manage and optimize care, and performance measures and improvement activities.’ Spectrum Health Grand Rapids initially earned its certification in October 2004.

Spectrum Health is a not-for-profit health system in West Michigan that offers a full continuum of care through its seven hospitals, more than 140 service sites and 580,000-member health plan, Priority Health.’ Spectrum Health’s 13,000 employees, 1,400 medical staff members and 2,000 volunteers are committed to delivering the highest quality care to those in medical need.’ The organization provided more than $100 million in community benefit during its 2006 fiscal year. Spectrum Health has earned more than 50 national awards during the past 10 years.