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November 29, 2011 > Don't Delay! Learn More About Stroke

Don't Delay! Learn More About Stroke

When It Comes to Stroke, Experts Agree: Prevention Is Best

During an upcoming Free Stroke Education Series seminar at Washington Hospital being held on Tuesday, Dec. 6, Dr. Ash Jain, medical director of the hospital's Stroke Program, will shed light on the expert acute management of stroke that takes place inside the hospital.

A devastating disease

"Stroke is by far one of the most devastating disease processes out there," according to Dr. Jain. "Fortunately, as a Primary Stroke Center certified by Joint Commission and the American Stroke Association, the Washington Hospital Stroke Program has the expertise and tools to greatly improve stroke outcomes for our patients."

Still, nobody wants to suffer a stroke in order to discover firsthand how good Washington Hospital's Stroke Program is. Furthermore, whenever he talks about stroke, Dr. Jain is always quick to emphasize the importance of prevention.

"The methods of acute stroke management that will be discussed - including tissue plasminogen activator (tPA) and arterial stenting - can be very effective in mitigating neurological damage from stroke," Dr. Jain says. "But the best way to approach stroke is to never have one in the first place."

Stroke? Act fast

If a person does suffer a stroke, timing is critical, he says.

"For a patient who comes to the ER in within four and a half hours of a stroke, we can get good results by administering tPA intravenously," according to Dr. Jain. "To determine which patients are good candidates for tPA - also known as clot-dissolving medication - we have neurologists on-call 24 hours a day, seven days a week."

"Then, for patients who arrive in the ER between four and a half and six hours after a stroke, we would inject the drug directly into the brain and still get fairly good results," Dr. Jain explains.

After six hours, though, patients are no longer good candidates for clot-dissolving medications. The good news is that the Stroke Team at Washington Hospital can still treat strokes for up to eight hours by inserting a catheter through the groin into the brain to remove the clot.

"It's a riskier procedure, and the results are not as good, but we are still able to preserve a fair amount of brain function. After eight hours, most of the damage to the brain has been done, and we generally are not able to attempt acute treatment."

Unfortunately, many patients don't realize that they have had a stroke. As a result, they wait too long to call 9-1-1, limiting the effectiveness of treatments that rely on a rapid response, Dr. Jain says. This is why community members need a two-pronged approach to stroke. The first is prevention by controlling preventable risk factors such as high blood pressure; the second is knowing how to recognize stroke symptoms.

Making strides in rehab

During the seminar, Doug Van Houten, R.N., clinical coordinator of the Stroke Program at Washington Hospital, will discuss stroke rehabilitation and chronic care.

"I feel strongly about rehab - it's what gets people going back in the right direction after a stroke," he says. "But even with rehab, stroke is still the No. 1 cause of long-term disability in the United States."

After patients undergo acute treatment for stroke, rehabilitation professionals - including speech therapists, occupational therapists and physical therapists - take over. They often spend three to four weeks working with patients inside the hospital helping them to recover lost function, Van Houten explains.

"This presentation includes a discussion of how stroke survivors get better after stroke and how they cope with the chronic health issues related to stroke," he says.

Van Houten will discuss issues such as:
* Difficulty swallowing
* Impaired communication
* Problems with mobility
* Sensory deficits
* Depression
* Emotional changes

"Amazingly, stroke survivors usually make great strides after stroke, and rehab is the key. That said, do we really want to wait until we have a stroke to get our bodies back into optimal condition? No, instead we want to help prevent a stroke."

Prevention is best

Pairing the idea of rehab with prevention, Van Houten has an innovative approach to stroke that he would like others to adopt. He says that now is the time for rehab, and he encourages community members to take steps - like walking regularly and improving strength - to reduce the chances of having a stroke in the first place.

"A recent study showed that women could dramatically reduce their likelihood of stroke and cardiovascular events by committing to just two hours of walking per week," Van Houten explains, adding that this is most likely true for men as well.

"Walking a little each day is not much to ask, and it can go a long way in helping to prevent stroke."

Increase your knowledge

Would you like to find out how to reduce your risk of stroke? The first step is to learn more about it. Join members of Washington Hospital's Stroke program on Tuesday, Dec. 6, from 6 to 8 p.m., in the Conrad E. Anderson, M.D. Auditorium, located at 2500 Mowry Avenue (Washington West) in Fremont.

To register for the seminar, call (800) 963-7070 or visit To learn more about Washington Hospital's award winning Stroke Program, visit

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