By Dr. Regina Mysliwiec, MD MS
Medical Director, Department of Emergency Medicine, Columbia Memorial Hospital
Vice Chair, Department of Emergency Medicine, Oregon Health & Science University
Imagine you are having lunch with your family, and suddenly, your father is unable to speak and cannot move his arm. This terrible event can happen at any time. This is a stroke or “brain attack,” and treatment is time sensitive — you need to call 911 immediately.
There are many signs of stroke, including sudden numbness or weakness of face, arm or leg, especially on one side of the body, sudden confusion or trouble talking, vision changes, sudden trouble walking, dizziness or loss of balance or coordination, or sudden severe headache.
Sometimes, the warning signs may last only a few moments and then disappear. These brief episodes, known as transient ischemic attacks or TIAs, are sometimes called “mini-strokes.” A TIA can progress to a stroke, so it should be evaluated rapidly.
CMH has teamed up with OHSU to optimize our approach to stroke management using the most modern technology available. Our preparation begins when paramedics call and alert the ED about a possible stroke. The ED team meets the patient at the door to begin the evaluation, which can include an expedited CT and an examination by an OHSU stroke neurologist via a two-way video conference.
Stroke treatment has advanced by leaps and bounds in recent years. From the clot-busting medication that can be given in the ED to the more advanced, invasive interventions available at OHSU, CMH ED providers coordinate with Medix or Life Flight to provide rapid transport, making access to these treatments a reality for our community.
Advanced stroke treatments can be given as soon as symptoms start, so do not wait to see if your symptoms improve! There are several health issues that can increase the risk of having a stroke, including high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes and smoking cigarettes. Check in with your primary care provider to make sure your health is on the right track. And remember: if you notice warning signs of TIA or stroke, call for help right away.
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