Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi Highlights Stroke Warning Signs, Risk Factors and Need for Urgent Response
Physicians at Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi have stressed the importance of the ‘Golden Hour,’ as part of an awareness campaign to help people recognize the symptoms of stroke and act quickly.
When a patient has an ischemic stroke, that is, when a clot blocks blood flow in the brain, they lose an average 1.9 million brain cells each minute that it goes untreated. Providing the patient with rapid treatment helps limit the damage and increases their chances of recovery, which is why emergency physicians refer to the time after a stroke as “the golden hour”.
A 2018 study by Cleveland Clinic in the US showed the importance of rapid treatment even for patients with one of the most serious forms of ischemic stroke. According to the study, 52 percent of people who suffered an ischemic stroke had better long-term outcomes if they received the required medication within 60 minutes of the first symptoms, compared to only 27 percent of patients showing good long-term outcomes – with respect to disability and living independently — if they received treatment after the ‘Golden Hour’.
World Stroke Day, which takes place on October 29, is a global initiative designed to educate the community about the risks of stroke, and the ways patients can be helped to recover.
Dr. Khalil Wasfi Zahra, Staff Physician in the Neurological Institute at Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi, said: “Brain cells start to die within minutes of being deprived of oxygen, but in most cases blood clots can be disbursed by clot-busting drugs if they are administered in under three hours, and ideally within the ‘golden hour’.”
“Time is critical because once brain cells have died the area of the body associated with that part of the brain will not function as before. As a designated stroke center for Abu Dhabi, Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi has a rapid response team to swiftly assess and treat stroke patients, giving them a better chance of a good recovery.”
Physicians stress the need to respond quickly in stroke cases but can also successfully treat cases which were not immediately recognized. The clot-busting medication can be administered up to four and a half hours in some patients, and physicians have a range of approaches which can be used to treat the patient in the 24 hours following a stroke, such as catheterization of the brain vessels during which a clot can be extracted.
As part of the awareness campaign, physicians at Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi are advising the public to remember the ‘F.A.S.T.’ code, which stands for Face – ask for a smile to see if one side droops; Arms – to see if one side lowers when arms are raised; Speech – to detect if the person can repeat a simple sentence without slurring the words; and Time – Emergency Services should be called as quickly as possible.
Symptoms of stroke typically include a sudden numbness or weakness in the body, especially on one side; changes in vision; difficulty in swallowing; dizziness; unsteadiness; confusion, and trouble speaking or understanding others.
Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi’s Emergency Department team can quickly assess which type of stroke the patient has experienced using a CT scan. Ischemic strokes, or blood clots, are the most common form of stroke. Hemorrhagic stroke, usually caused by high blood pressure, are far less common but much more dangerous and can be fatal.