You should consider memorizing the warning signs of stroke and promise yourself to call the Life Squad right away if you or someone you know has a warning sign.
The Warning Signs are:
–Sudden weakness or numbness of the face, arm, or leg, especially on one side of the body
–Trouble speaking or understanding
–Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes
–Sudden trouble walking
–Dizziness or loss of balance or coordination
–Sudden severe headache with no known cause
You need to call the life squad right away because immediate emergency treatment can sometimes prevent permanent damage by treatment with IV fibrinolytics (clot-blusters). And emergency treatment helps to minimize the brain damage from by supporting the patients ABCs (airway, breathing, and circulation).
When you call the life squad, the Emergency Medical System, the team will arrive at your home (most strokes occur at home). The team will assess the patient’s ABCs (airway, breathing, and circulation) and give oxygen if needed. The team will perform a prehospital stroke assessment such as the Cincinnati Prehospital Stroke Scale. They will establish the time that the patient was last known to be normal.
Next the life squad team will take the patient rapidly to a stroke center, supporting the ABCs during transport. If there is a witness to the events, they may request that person go with the patient in the ambulance. The team will call ahead to the hospital to alert it and they will check the patient’s blood sugar.
Once at the hospital, things will happen fast. The time goals of the emergency department are very important but are not always possible.
The patient is to have a general medical assessment within ten minutes. And, during that time an emergency non-contrast CT scan of the head is ordered. Also an IV will be placed and blood tests drawn and sent to the lab and a blood sugar will be checked..
The CT scan of the head tells the doctors what kind of stroke the patient is having. There are two types, ischemic stroke from a blocked blood vessel in the brain and hemorrhagic stroke from bleeding into the brain. Most strokes are ischemic (87%). The treatment is different for the different types of stroke. IV fibrinolytic (clot-dissolving) medicine is only indicated in certain ischemic strokes.
Within twenty five minutes of arrival, the patient is to have a neurologic assessment (NIH Stroke Scale) and the CT scan of the head will be completed.
The goal is to have the CT scan interpreted within 45 minutes of the time the patient arrived at the emergency department.
If IV fibrinolytic (clot-dissolving) medicine is indicated, the goal is to give it within 60 minutes of ER arrival. IV fibrinolytic also must usually be given within 3 hours of the onset of symptoms.
But the most important role of emergency treatment is to minimize the damage the stroke causes by supporting the patient’s ABCs (airway, breathing, and circulation).
So that’s why you should memorize the stroke warning signs and call the life squad immediately if you or someone you know has one or more of the signs.
Reference: Advanced Cardiovascular Life Support, c2011, the American Heart Association