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Toledo, Ohio & Lake Erie

The Press Newspaper

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For a patient who suffers a severe ischemic stroke or blockage of a blood vessel, and who may not be a candidate for the more common medication (tissue plasminogen activator or tPA) that dissolves a clot, another option of treatment is available at ProMedica.

Mechanical embolectomy is performed by going through the leg with a catheter to the brain where the clot is located, mechanically retrieving and removing the clot, and restoring critical blood flow. “We have seen immediately improvement in some patients after the clot has been removed,” according to Dr. Mouhammad Jumaa, medical director of the ProMedica Stroke Network.

To determine where the clot is located, doctors perform a brain-computed tomography scan, or brain CT scan, by injecting a contrast dye into the carotid artery. The dye helps make the artery visible on x-ray pictures and provides clear, detailed images of the brain as soon as possible after a stroke is suspected. In mechanical embolectomy, when clot-dissolving medication is not prescribed, a stent is used to capture and remove the clot. As with any invasive procedure, risks are involved. However, with mechanical embolectomy, these risks can be minimized.

“We are having very good outcomes especially for those patients who do not qualify for tPA,” says Dr. Jumaa.

According to the National Stroke Association, approximately 795,000 strokes will occur this year in the United States, one occurring every 40 seconds, and take a life approximately every four minutes.

May is National Stroke Awareness Month. It is important for patients to know their risk factors, including high blood pressure, diabetes and high cholesterol.

Atrial defibrillation, or an irregular heartbeat and carotid artery stenosis, which causes clot-forming and a narrowing of the vessels due to the build-up of cholesterol can also contribute to stroke risk.

“Fifty percent of patients do not survive a stroke. For those who do, they survive with a disability,” says Dr. Jumaa.

With the help of a primary care physician, many diseases linked to stroke, including hypertension, atrial fibrillation, high cholesterol, diabetes and atherosclerosis are treatable. Making wise decisions to quit smoking, drink less alcohol and maintain a healthy weight can also reduce the risk of stroke.

According to the National Stroke Association, stroke is the fourth leading cause of death in America and a leading cause of disability. Eighty percent of strokes are preventable with the appropriate health screenings and changes to diet and lifestyle.

The association also recommends everyone become familiar with the signs of stroke. Remember “FAST.”

It is also important to know the signs of stroke and to seek treatment right away.

• Face: Ask the person to smile. Does one side of the face droop?

• Arms: Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm drift downward?

• Speech: Ask the person to repeat a simple phrase. Is speech slurred or strange?

• Time: If you observe any of these signs, call 9-1-1 immediately.

For more stroke information about strokes, visit www.stroke.org.Learn more about ProMedica’s neurology services, including the ProMedica Stroke Network at http://promedica.org/Neurology.

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