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New technology advances stroke treatment

4:31 PM, Oct 17, 2012   |    comments
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Currently, medications are used at a hospital to try and break up any clots causing an ischemic stroke, where the blood supply to part of the brain has been cut off.

This medication needs to be given within a small time window and has some potentially serious side effects. Even so, this medication has saved many lives and improved the recovery of many stroke victims.

But newer technology is allowing more advanced stroke treatments. One of these technologies is a device known as the MAX System of Reperfusion Catheters manufactured by Penumbra, Inc. Swedish Medical Center, located in Englewood, Colo., is the first advanced care center in the state to use what they call a "simple, fast technology" on stroke patients. This device consists of a small catheter that is used in a leg artery. 

The catheter is moved up to the affected part of the brain and the blood clot causing the stroke is located. Using the Max system the doctor then uses the catheter to gently remove the blood clot, allowing blood to flow back to the affected part of the brain.

According to Dr Donald Frei, Swedish Medical Center's Neurointerventional Radiologist, this new technology allows doctors to remove the clot causing the stroke more efficiently. This also gives doctors the ability to quickly and easily treat the patient and has become the front line device for treating stroke patients at Swedish Medical Center.

Dr Frei also reiterated the need, regardless of the technology used, for a stroke patient to seek treatment as soon as possible after noticing symptoms of a stroke. The FAST test can help a person quickly recognize stroke warning signs. This test is:

  • F - Face: Ask the person to smile, does one side of the face drooping down?
  • A - Arm: Can the person raise both arms?
  • S - Speech: Is speech slurred or confusing? Is the person able to speak?
  • T - Time: Time is critical. Call 9-1-1 immediately
As Dr Frei puts it, a stroke is also known as a "brain attack."  And much like a heart attack quick treatment is essential. So if you notice any of the warning signs of a stroke do not wait around or try to drive yourself, or have someone else drive you, to the hospital. Call 911 immediately. Again, when it comes to a stroke and stroke treatment "time is brain."


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