While a stroke can happen at just about any age, it often occurs in older adults and is more likely to occur with age. A stroke can range in categorization from mild to severe. Due to the fact that the effects of a stroke can lead to serious disability and in some cases death, it is absolutely important that the best treatment options are sought after, promoted, and improved upon. One leading treatment option for stroke patients is that of Interventional Radiology.
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Interventional Radiation (IR) is a treatment that helps to diagnose and treat stroke patients in a way that is less invasive and risk averse than other treatments. Pain and recovery time are reduced while the treatment period is extended. IR treatment technology becomes very important in light of the fact that strokes are deadly, and approximately 780,000 people suffer from a stroke each year in The United States of America (USA). Interventional Radiation is a great option for patients with stroke as it aims to help reduce the number of persons experiencing the debilitating effects of a stroke.
Strokes occur whenever there is any interruption in the flow of blood to the body’s brain. This interruption is usually due to a blood clot. Strokes are so common in the USA that one occurs every 40 seconds, with one stroke-related death occurring approximately every 4 minutes. Due to the nature of a stroke, the longer a stroke goes undiagnosed and untreated, the greater the likelihood the patient will experience neurological damage. Currently, strokes are the third leading cause of adult disability and death. The immediate treatment of stroke patients is critical to reducing these devastating effects of a stroke. A Tissue Plasminogen Activator (t-PA) can be used to actively used to treat a stroke within three hours of its onset. Designated treatment centers are equipped to evaluate and treat strokes quickly, using IV t-pa.
Of course, it is important that treatment specialists and patients alike know what the signs of a stroke are. This allows for a faster diagnosis and for effective treatment to be administered. For starters, there are two different kinds of strokes. 15% of strokes are hemorrhagic, while the other 85% of cases are ischemic. Whether strokes are ischemic or hemorrhagic, early recognition of the signs and symptoms is critical to reducing potential tissue damage and increasing chances of a full recovery. The acronym F.A.S.T. can help patients do just that. F.A.S.T. refers to the parts and functions of the body that patients must pay attention to in order to quickly recognize and respond to the onset of a stroke. These body parts and functions are Face (check to see if one side of the face droops), Arm (check if arms can be raised or if one arm stays hanging downward), Speech (check if the patient is slurring), and Time (emergency services should be contacted immediately if any of the above symptoms are present).
The most important part of treatment where strokes are concerned is the speed at which help comes. As stated prior, if left untreated, strokes often result in permanent neurological damage. Thankfully, technology and treatment options have advanced. With that advancement comes rapid and effective response from medical practitioners and caregivers.
Interventional Radiology expands both the treatment window and treatment options for patients. Intervention Radiology uses two main instruments, a Mechanical Embolus Removal In Cerebral Ischemia Removal (a corkscrew-shaped mechanical device used during endovascular procedures for stroke patients) and a Penumbra System Thrombo-Aspiration Device (has an 82% recanalization success rate as it is used to suck out blood clots after a separator has been used to break up the same). A non-contrast computed tomography can be used to determine whether or not clot-dissolving medications are a suitable treatment solution given the circumstance(s).
Interventional Radiologists are likely to be a part of the first contact care team at the hospital where treating patients with a stroke are concerned. They not only help to treat and remove the blood clot using the instruments and methods above, they also take proactive steps to access what could have caused the blood clot in the first place and put preventative measures in place to stop the same from recurring.
After treatment care is just as important for stroke patients as the care they receive from the onset. It is this after treatment care that will keep patients healthy, and prevent other strokes from occurring. The step in after treatment care is that of medically supervised observation. In many cases, it may be required that the patient is admitted to the neurological intensive care unit of the hospital for a minimum 24-hour observation and monitoring (which may include neurological exams) to ensure he or she is clearly out of the woods. In other words, monitoring and observation is designed to ensure the safety of the patient and improve their chances of a full recovery. As such, the patient’s neurological status is thoroughly assessed in light of their condition.
When the patient is ready to be released from the hospital, discharge education is engaged. Discharge education ensures patients will be able to properly care for themselves, or that caregivers will be able properly assist. Discharge education includes prescribing a medication regimen and the necessary lifestyle modifications. After care lifestyle modification requirements may include changes in diet (where there may be restrictions in consuming certain foods), physical activity (regular moderate exercise may be encouraged), and counseling regarding the effects of behaviors like smoking or consuming excess amounts of alcohol on the probability of a stroke occurring or recurring (quitting smoking and drinking is usually recommended). With the lifestyle changes and other after care recommendations, patients increase their chances of staving off the occurrence for another stroke. Patients are also likely to improve their overall well being.
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