Why a specialist acute stroke center is critical to your survival
Time is a stroke patient’s best friend. It is the most crucial aspect to your survival because thrombolytic agents (blood thinners) must be given within the first 4.5 hours of your symptoms in order to dissolve the clot and not result in permanent disability. Arriving at hospital within the first hour is better than the second and so on. After 4.5 hours the drugs cannot be given, as they will no longer work.
Why is a specialist stroke center important?
Picture this scenario: You see your loved one showing symptoms of a stroke. His face has fallen to one side (his mouth is drooping); soon enough he cannot raise his arms; then you notice his speech is slurred. You now realize it is time to call the ambulance. The ambulance arrives and transports him to the nearest general hospital. You made great time, but then you notice the hospital is not equipped to deal with acute stroke patients. They do not have the right medications and they treat the complications of the stroke, not the stroke itself. The following day your loved one is left with a permanent disability: he cannot talk, he cannot eat and he needs 24/7 nursing care. Not only is it devastating for him and those around him; it is also a huge cost burden on the family.
Now picture this scenario: Your loved one exhibits the same stroke symptoms. You remember there is a specialized stroke center and you call their emergency number. The ambulance arrives quickly and they start performing tests on her in the ambulance, so by the time they arrive at the hospital the blood results will be available. The neurologist arrives immediately and gives her a thrombolytic agent (blood thinner) to dissolve the blood clot to be followed with possible catheterization and clot retrieval. There is a multi-disciplinary team on standby should any complications occur. An interventional radiologist is on hand, also neurosurgeons, qualified intensivists, well-trained nurses, respiratory therapists, swallow therapists and speech therapists. The following morning, she wakes up with appetite, she can express herself, walk and is discharged after the speech and physiotherapy specialists assess her function. Within 10 days she is back at work.
“Patients with stroke admitted to organized stroke care are less likely to die and more likely to leave hospital independent than those who are cared for in general…wards.” (From National Clinical Guideline for Diagnosis and Initial Management of Acute Stroke and Transient Ischemic Attack (TIA). London: Royal Collage of Physicians (UK); 2008 (NICE Clinical Guidelines, No. 68)
It is important for your loved one to go to a specialized stroke center because:
- They have the right medications.
- They have specially trained doctors and nurses for acute stroke cases.
- The patient will receive immediate diagnosis.
- They have a multidisciplinary team on hand to attend and assess the patient.
- The right treatment for a successful outcome during the small window of opportunity.
Al- Khalidi Hospital has the only specialist stroke center in Jordan
In Jordan, the only specialized stroke center to date is the Intensive Stroke Unit (ISU) of Al-Khalidi Hospital and Medical Center. It has treated patients living in Jordan with remarkable success rate. Deputy Medical Director, Dr Azzam Jamil, hopes to hear of other specialized stroke centers opening in Jordan in the future because it will improve patient safety and quality of service across the country.
What does a specialist stroke center do?
The Intensive Stroke Unit at Al-Khalidi Hospital and Medical Center is the only center so far in Jordan to treat patients with thrombolytic agents and diagnostic and therapeutic catheters to retrieve clots in the blocked arteries. This is done by inserting a wire and absorbing the clot so the blood will flow again into the tissue. The patient’s symptoms will improve with a certain percentage (90% or 80% or 70%), depending on what time patients arrive and also whether they are diabetic or hypersensitive or have other conditions.
A specialized center like the Intensive Stroke Unit at Al-Khalidi Hospital and Medical Center can also treat post stroke complications. For example, sometimes patients bleed after receiving a thrombolytic agent. The ISU has neurosurgeons on call, on the spot, to deal with the case accordingly.
The Intensive Stroke Unit also has acute stroke management with a multi-disciplinary team that involves neurologists and neurosurgeons, physiotherapists, occupational therapists, speech therapists and swallow therapists all working closely together. Your loved one will be diagnosed immediately, a crucial element because time plays a big role in success.
What is a stroke?
A stroke happens when a blood vessel in the brain has a clot or starts leaking. There are two types of strokes.
- Acute stroke: This is a stroke and blockage that will not reverse on its own in 24 hours.
- A transient ischemic attack (TIA): This is usually a temporary clot that dissolves and goes away by itself within 24 hours. It is a warning sign that you are at a significant risk of having an acute stroke in the future.
Doctors at Al-Khalidi Hospital and Medical Center deal with TIA patients carefully. They do full evaluation including clinical examination, laboratory and radiology checkup looking for the cause of TIA and the appropriate medical plan.
What you should do if your loved one has stroke symptoms
If you notice your loved one showing signs of stroke (remember FAST: Face drooping, Arms not lifting, Slurred speech, and Time is of the essence) then it is time to call an ambulance that will take you to a specialized stroke center.
If you call 911 they will take you to the nearest public hospital, but you must insist they take your loved one to a specialized stroke unit; in this case, the Intensive Stroke Unit at Al-Khalidi Hospital and Medical Center, since it is the only one in Jordan so far. When others open up, you must go to the nearest specialized stroke center.
You can also call the emergency number at Al-Khalidi Hospital and Medical Center (079 199 0 199). A medical doctor will answer your call and a well-trained team will arrive with the ambulance to start the evaluation and the investigation then transport you to the Intensive Stroke Unit at the Al-Khalidi Hospital where your loved one will immediately be cared for by a multi-disciplinary team.
Take the right step now and save the emergency number on your favorites: 079 199 0 199.