Nearly 800,000 people in the U.S. suffer a stroke each year. It is the number one cause of disability and the fourth leading cause of death, with 130,000 individuals dying as a result of stroke each year.
Unfortunately, many people don’t recognize the common symptoms of stroke – weakness on one side of the body, difficulty speaking, drooping on one side of the face, difficulty walking – and this can cause a delay in receiving treatment.
It turns out that the time that lapses from the onset of symptoms to the treatment for stroke is a huge factor in determining how significant its effect will be. The Wall Street Journal recently reported on the important advances in speeding treatment for stroke victims in their article, A Fast Track to Treatment for Stroke Patients.
The time between a stroke patient’s arrival in the emergency department and the time they receive treatment with tPA – a medication that dissolves blood clots – is referred to as door-to-needle time. Larger clots can be treated with endovascular methods, where a small tube is introduced into the blocked vessel and the clot removed. The American Stroke Association has established Target Stroke, an initiative aimed at reducing this door-to-needle time for patients suffering a stroke.
Dr. Sean Lavine, MD of the Columbia Neurosurgery Endovascular Center explains, “Patients need to know that minimizing the time to treatment for stroke is key to improving their chances to have an excellent outcome, and that they should come to a designated stroke center such as ours staffed with physicians from the Columbia Neurosurgery Endovascular Center at the first sign of stroke symptoms.”
The door-to-needle time represents an area of rapid evolution in stroke treatment. Virtual stroke networks have been established so that experts can remotely diagnose stroke and expedite treatment. When it works well, treatment can be initialized as early as the ambulance ride to the hospital, and endovascular specialists can be waiting for the patient’s arrival.
Columbia University Medical Center/New York Presbyterian Hospital understands how critical the minutes after stroke are. With established Cerebrovascular and Endovascular Centers, and is leading the way in stroke treatment. In fact, Columbia University Medical Center/New York Presbyterian Hospital is part of a National Institutes of Health project to address all aspects of stroke, from prevention to treatment to recovery. This effort is being led by Dr. E. Sander Connolly. Dr. Philip Meyers, Dr. Dorothea Altschul, and Dr. Anthony D’Ambrosio are co-investigators for the project.
The neurosurgeons at Columbia are committed to leading the development and implementation of the most effective methods of stroke treatment, for their own patient and for patients around the world.
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