Medical Director Jayne Ward, D.O., urges quick action at first sign of stroke
"Education is still the key in recognizing stroke symptoms, and in diagnosing and treating strokes, so patients have the best chance for optimum recovery," says Jayne Ward, Director, D.O., Medical Director, McLaren Greater Lansing Stroke Center.
"We literally have a three-hour time window for the patient to be brought to the Emergency Department (ED), make the diagnosis, and get treatment started. Most strokes are ischemic, meaning an artery taking blood to the brain is blocked. The blockage may be cholesterol deposits or a blood clot. Still, oxygen-rich blood is stranded by the blockage.
"Within minutes, a patient with a possible diagnosis of stroke may be eligible for a clot-busting drug called tPa (Tissue Plasminogen Activator). That means immediate triage, blood work and a CT scan must be ready to go when the patient arrives at the Emergency Department.
"The majority of stoke patients who come to the ED are able to give some medical history. We will determine if the patient has uncontrolled blood pressure, or if there are other metabolic reasons the patient would not qualify for TPA. The CT scan will determine if there is bleeding in the brain. If the patient is unable to provide history, family members may be able to tell us if the patient has had a stroke within the last three months, or other health issues. If none of these conditions are true, they may be eligible for our "clot buster" drug that will attempt to dissolve the blockage and permit blood flow to return the portion of the brain involved.
"We treat approximately 300 stroke patients in our dedicated stroke unit annually. Stroke is the third leading cause of death in the U.S. Stroke is like a ‘thief.’ Often, patients report common stroke symptoms, such as transient weakness or numbness. This is the time to begin the evaluation; if we wait too long, permanent damage can occur.
Click here for warning signs and symptoms of stroke....
"Currently, stroke patients spend about 4.2 days in the hospital. We have a multidisciplinary team that follows stroke therapeutic protocols outlined in the National Stroke Association’s "Get-With-The-Guidelines". Our Stroke Center nurses have had special training in managing stroke patients. They bring in other disciplines (physical and occupational therapies, speech pathology, and rehabilitation specialists) to start the crucial evaluations of how stroke has affected each patient on the unit.
"Some patients may qualify to transfer to the Medical Rehabilitation Unit on the Penn campus; others may be discharged to their home with therapies provided by McLaren Visiting Nurse & Hospice; or other rehabilitation providers. We want patients and their families to know the community resources available, so their loved one can continue with the intensive therapeutic recovery that stroke often demands.
"As is true in life, the deficits stroke may cause in any one individual come down to: location, location, location. Most patients who suffer a stroke have some type of disability. That’s what our inpatient and outpatient multidisciplinary teams are trained to do – work on reversing the deficits left by the stroke.
"I grew up in this community, and I personally felt called to this role as Stroke Center Medical Director. We can’t afford to take baby steps. For those with stroke, caregivers must commit to running a marathon. It’s important that we at McLaren Greater Lansing continue our commitment to the treatment of stroke, and to provide excellent clinical care, so a stroke patient can have the best possible outcome."