New advances in stroke treatment - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

New advances in stroke treatment

ACE Clot Extraction ACE Clot Extraction

For years, we have warned that a stroke comes with a three-hour window to get emergency care so the drug, TPA, can be used to dissolve a clot and improve blood flow to the brain.

Well, times are changing and the clock is changing, too, with new discoveries.

Dr. Thomas Windisch is an Interventional Neuroradiologist at Covenant Health. He says new devices are allowing doctors to extend that clock in some cases.

But first, let’s back up and look at the signs that should prompt stroke patients to seek emergency care in the first place. The Acronym to remember is F.A.S.T.

F stands for Facial drooping.

A indicates Arm weakness.

S means Slurred Speech.

And T means Time is of the essence if you find yourself with any of these symptoms.

Dr. Windisch says, "The more quickly we act, the better chance we have of salvaging brain in acute stroke.”  However, he says it’s unfortunate that people don’t have the same sense of urgency with a stroke as they do with a heart attack. He explains, ”People who have strokes don’t tend to get care as quickly as people who have heart attacks because generally strokes are painless so they notice something amiss, and they don’t understand that the clock is beginning to run just like it would with a heart attack."

Dr. Windisch adds it’s hard enough to know when the window starts, particularly if someone has weakness getting out of bed.

So, here’s what’s new.

A procedure called Mechanical Thrombectomy uses new devices that can actually reach into a vessel, grab and remove a large clot almost like a vacuum cleaner.  Much like an angiogram, the catheter typically starts at the right hip. Dr. Windisch says "We have a large catheter that is about half the size of the ink well on a Bic pen. And we have smaller devices we can thread through those."

Bottom line, if TPA can not dissolve a clot, there are new devices that can grab and remove the clot to restore blood flow to the patient.

Even with these advances, one four letter word still makes all the difference… TIME.

If you think you may be showing any sign of a stroke, call 911.

The window may be extended, but Time is still precious.

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