SSM Health Medical Minute: Extended window of time during a stroke

ST. LOUIS - Stroke occurs when blood flow to a part of the brain is disrupted. Time is critical if you or someone you love is having a stroke, call 911 and let the EMTs get you to a designated Level 1 Stroke Center.

SSM Health St. Clare Hospital interventional neurologist, Dr. Sushant Kale says EMS can evaluate the stroke symptoms and get patient’s to Level 1 Stroke Centers even if it’s not the closest hospital and this has shown to save more lives. When seconds count, time is of the essence, and transferring a patient from one hospital to another is a waste of time and means a lot of brain tissue is lost. These new guidelines allow EMS to determine the best hospital with the most resources to take a stroke patient.

But the time window for treating stroke with successful recovery is expanding. Dr. Kale says stroke can be treated successfully even after 24 hours of symptoms. Recent clinical trials showed more people who have had an ischemic stroke could be eligible for life-saving clot removal and dissolving treatment in 24 hours following the first symptoms.

"Very excited because that kind of brings in a new era in stroke treatment."

Dr. Kale is the stroke medical director for SSM Health and says if tests show the patient has salvageable brain tissue, it means doctors will have more time to treat them with newer conventional means.

"They have a symptom of stroke but the sign in the scans shows that it is still alive so they are suffering from what we call ischemia which means low blood flow but not infarct meaning it’s not dead yet."

And, he says, there is a major difference in recovery.

"Somebody coming back in your clinic wheelchair bound not able to do anything for their own needs while people walk in and thank you for saving their life that's the difference with this treatment."

Recognizing the symptoms is critical and includes the word “FAST” to remember what to look out for:

FACE: ask the person to smile. Is there a droop on one side (an uneven smile)?
ARM: ask the person to raise both arms with their eyes closed. Does one arm drift down because of weakness? Is there arm numbness?
SPEECH: ask the person to repeat a simple sentence. Can he/she repeat it? Is speech slurred or difficult to understand?
TIME: call 911 and get to a hospital/stroke center immediately. The faster treatment is administered, the better the outcome.
In addition, sudden stroke symptoms may include:

  • Numbness or weakness of the face, arm or leg, especially on one side of the body
  • Confusion
  • Trouble seeing in one or both eyes
  • Trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination
  • Severe headache without a known cause

For more information about treating stroke, click here.

The SSM Health Medical Minute airs every Thursday at 7 PM on KPLR News 11 and at 9 PM on KTVI Fox 2 News.