Don't wait out the signs

Stroke time is brain time

Approximately 800,000 people suffer strokes each year in the United States. It is the third leading cause of death, resulting in approximately 140,000 fatalities annually.

With stroke, timing is everything. A stroke can lead to a severe disability, if not death, if not properly treated in a timely manner. The sooner the blood flow is restored to the brain, the better the outcome will be.

Sudden changes can signal a stroke. Here is what to look for:

  • Sudden weakness on one side of the body.
  • Sudden confusion, trouble speaking or understanding.
  • Sudden trouble seeing.
  • Sudden trouble walking or loss of balance.
  • Sudden severe headache with no known cause.

“While there may be a temptation to overlook these symptoms, or wait it out to see if the person improves, it is essential to call 911 immediately,” said Dr. Deshaies.

Emergency medical service (EMS) personnel can assess the person’s condition and transport him or her to a designated stroke center, such as Upstate University Hospital. When the call comes in, the Upstate stroke team assembles for the incoming patient.

From the onset of symptoms there is a limited window of time to protect the brain and during which the physician can give intravenous clot-busting medication. If there is a time delay, the person may not be a candidate for the clot-busting medication.

“This level of care requires an amazing collaboration between physicians, nurses, pharmacists, dietitians, radiology staff, and therapists,” said Paul Seale, chief operating officer for the hospital.  Upstate University Hospital also has the region's only specialized neuroscience step-down and neuroscience intensive care unit.

The Upstate Stroke Center is the first in New York State to achieve certification as a DNV Primary Stroke Center. In 2013, Upstate was awarded the American Heart Association “Get With the Guidelines Gold Plus” for stroke care. For more information on stroke, please call the Women’s Health Network at 315-464-2756 or toll free at 855-890-UWHN.