When a stroke is suspected, the saying goes, “Time is brain.” A stroke is when a blood vessel in the brain becomes blocked, either from a blood clot or plaque build-up inside the vessel. When the vessel can’t deliver the blood the brain needs, the brain starts to die. The more quickly 9-1-1 is called, the more rapidly treatment can be delivered—each minute reducing the potential severity of lifetime disability or likelihood death. Stroke is the second leading cause of death in the United States and the number one reason people become disabled. Watch video to learn how to recognize and prevent stroke.
The best treatment for stroke is a strong blood thinner called tissue plasma activator, or tPA. If this is given within 60 minutes of when the stroke begins, a patient has a 50% chance of getting better. If given within three hours, the chances are only 14%. After 4-1/2 hours, the treatment doesn’t help. If the blood clot is large, removing it by surgery, a thrombectomy, is another lifesaving treatment that can be performed at Valley’s certified thrombectomy center.
What happens when 9-1-1 is called to help with a possible stroke?
- King County first responders and Medic One quickly identify and transport stroke patients from the field. Valley collaborates closely with these community partners and is a source of ongoing outreach and stroke education. Valley is actively pursuing a pilot program with King County Medic One in the use of Valley’s new stroke alert system.
- As a result of early, in-the-field communication with first responders, Valley’s Emergency Department team are prepared for arrival and ensures patients are seen quickly.
- The Acute Stroke Team collaborates with the ED and neurointerventionalist to determine eligibility for tPA or thrombectomy.
- Valley’s interventional radiology and anesthesia teams provide expert care of thrombectomy/endovascular therapy patients. This year, Valley added a new MRI scanner to enhance diagnosis and a fourth interventional suite to increase treatment capacity.
- During a hospital stay, patients receive skilled care from a large team of talented hospitalist, neurohospitalist, critical care, stroke unit, care management and rehabilitation staff.
- Valley’s transition of care team ensures seamless support once patients leave the hospital, guiding patients to receive follow-up primary care and specialty care at Valley’s Stroke Clinic.
- In collaboration with the UW Medicine neuroscience teams at UW Montlake, Harborview and Northwest, Valley stroke survivors are encouraged to attend the Stroke Club, a free online support group.
Award-winning stroke care is ready when needed
Led by Valley’s Neuroscience Institute and Emergency Department teams and their most recent enhancements to care, Valley has been awarded the American Heart Association 2022 Get with the Guidelines Gold Plus quality achievement award for Stroke for the seventh consecutive year.