Intermountain Health experts say quick action is needed to save lives and reduce disability for patients with stroke symptoms
(PRUnderground) May 10th, 2023
A North Ogden Utah man is lucky to be alive after his wife recognized stroke signs and acted quickly to get him to the hospital where he received one of Intermountain McKay-Dee Hospital’s first thrombectomies after the hospital received a new stroke treatment certification.
May is National Stroke Awareness Month and Intermountain Health doctors want patients to recognize the signs of strokes and know what actions to quickly take if they suspect someone is having a stroke.
Strokes can happen when:
- An artery going to the brain gets clogged or closes off, and part of the brain goes without blood for too long. This accounts for approximately 85% of strokes
- An artery breaks open and starts bleeding into or around the brain
Only around 40 percent of people in the United States can identify the major symptoms of a stroke.
A good way to remember the signs of stroke is by using the acronym BE FAST:
B = Balance – sudden dizziness or loss of balance and coordination
E = Eyes – sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes
F = Face – sudden weakness of the face (Does one side of the face droop?)
A = Arm – weakness of an arm or leg
S = Speech – sudden difficulty speaking
T = Time – time the symptoms started
Brad Coleman is a healthy 36-year-old man whose wife recognized sudden neurological changes as a stroke while driving between their young child’s soccer games. He had a difficulty speaking, a left-sided facial droop, weakness in his left arm and leg, and couldn’t feel half his body.
Coleman did not think he was having a stroke, but his wife, Melissa, insisted on driving him to the closest freestanding emergency department. They arrived there, where he was given clot-busting medication. However, it was determined that he needed to be transferred to a hospital to have a special emergency procedure to remove the clot in a large vessel in his brain.
Coleman was transferred to Intermountain Health’s McKay-Dee Hospital in Ogden and had a mechanical thrombectomy. A mechanical thrombectomy is a potentially lifesaving treatment for strokes and can reduce the level of disability from a severe stroke.
McKay-Dee Hospital had been designated a Primary Stroke Center since 2007 and has performed hundreds of mechanical thrombectomies since 2011. However, the stroke program had recently gone through a rigorous and extensive certification by The Joint Commission and is now a nationally-certified Thrombectomy-Capable Stroke Center.
Shortly after receiving this higher level of certification, doctors at McKay-Dee Hospital performed the mechanical thrombectomy procedure on Coleman and removed the blood clot from his brain. Thanks to the treatment, all of his stroke symptoms resolved immediately.
Intermountain McKay-Dee Hospital is the first Certified Joint Commission Thrombectomy-Capable Stroke Center in Utah.
They are celebrating with the Colemans as one of the first thrombectomies performed after their new stroke certification. These procedures are performed at McKay-Dee Hospital 24/7, 365 days a year.
As a Certified Thrombectomy-Capable Stroke Center, the McKay-Dee Hospital Stroke Center now qualifies for a Utah EMS Suspected Stroke Bypass Protocol.
In this protocol, if paramedics suspect that a patient has a large vessel blockage stroke and the last time they were seen normal was between 4 to 24 hours, EMS can bypass other hospitals and emergently transport patients directly to McKay-Dee Hospital, as a certified thrombectomy stroke center.
Quick treatment during a stroke is one of the most important factors in determining a good outcome. A stroke occurs when a portion of the brain doesn’t get enough blood for a period of time.
“We have a saying in the stroke world- time is brain. A general rule of thumb is that 2 million neurons per minute can die during a stroke. That’s why it’s so important to be treated as quickly as possible,” said, Melissa McDonald, MD, neurohospitalist for Intermountain Health’s McKay-Dee Hospital.
“We recommend patients call 911. EMS will take them to the most appropriate place, balancing distance with services offered. If that is not an option for patients, they should go to the nearest Emergency Department ASAP.”
The effects of a stroke depend on several factors including which part and how much of the brain is affected and how quickly the stroke is treated.
Some people who have a stroke have no lasting effects. Others lose important brain functions. For example, some people become partly paralyzed or unable to speak. Stroke is one of the leading causes of death and disability in the world.
A new study shows that for every second someone delays emergency stroke care; it’s associated with 2.2 hours of a less healthy life.
Since his stroke in late October, Brad is continuing to do well. He continues to exercise several times a week and enjoys golfing during his free time. He had a follow up with a neurologist in April and is doing well without any deficits thanks to the immediate attention he received.
The Colemans were reunited with Brad’s care team a month after his thrombectomy to express their gratitude for the lifesaving measures that took place. Brad was particularly grateful for the stroke provider who performed the thrombectomy on him. “I gave him a huge hug and thanked him as soon as I saw him. He had gotten that blood clot out of my head in thirteen minutes.”
The Intermountain Health team of specialists continues to develop protocols that shorten the amount of time it takes to diagnose and treat a stroke. This is important because a quick diagnosis and treatment can mean less long-term damage, less disability, and better overall outcomes.
“Even if you think you’re having a stroke or are having any similar symptoms of a stroke, go get checked out. It’s better to have that visit and be okay that to not and have permanent physical deficits,” advises Coleman.
Intermountain Health offers a full spectrum of specialized care that ranges from neuro critical care through acute care and into rehabilitation and outpatient therapy.
“Young people are also at higher risk of complications from swelling of the brain after a stroke because their brains take up a relatively larger proportion of the skull than for older patients,” said Dr. McDonald. “Anyone can have a stroke, so it’s important if you have symptoms of stroke, that you get checked out immediately, regardless of your age.”
For more information on strokes, prevention and treatment, as well as Intermountain Health stroke services, please click here.
About Intermountain Health
Headquartered in Utah with locations in seven states and additional operations across the western U.S., www.intermountainhealth.org is a nonprofit system of 33 hospitals, 385 clinics, medical groups with some 3,900 employed physicians and advanced care providers, a health plans division called SelectHealth with more than one million members, and other health services. Helping people live the healthiest lives possible, Intermountain is committed to improving community health and is widely recognized as a leader in transforming healthcare by using evidence-based best practices to consistently deliver high-quality outcomes at sustainable costs. For more information or updates, see https://intermountainhealthcare.org/news.
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Original Press Release.