Health column: When you’re at risk for stroke, 'Time Is Brain'
Column by Dawn Becker / UNC Lenoir Health Care; photo by Linda Whittington / Neuse News
Corey, a 27-year-old firefighter and former Marine, was found on the floor of the fire station at the end of his shift unable to respond verbally or walk. Emergency Medical Services transported him to the UNC Lenoir Health Care Emergency Department .
Upon arrival, Corey could not move his right side or speak; he could only respond by moving his eyes. Dawn Becker, RN, stroke program coordinator activated the stroke response team and initiated tele-stroke with Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center.
With telemedicine, Corey had access to expert world-class stroke care. He was assessed remotely via robot by a stroke neurologist who recommended a powerful blood thinner and immediate transfer to a comprehensive medical center. Corey was treated with the medication and then transferred.
As the medication moved through his system, he began to regain some movement and some speech. In the coming weeks and with intensive rehabilitation, Corey would regain all his functional ability and his speech. He went on to study para-medicine and is now a paramedic in Eastern North Carolina. Corey credits tele-stroke and the work of the UNC Lenoir care team with saving his life.
A 64-year-old, “John,” presented at the UNC Lenoir Health Care Emergency Department with slurred speech, weakness and word-finding difficulty. The stroke team was initiated and tele-stroke was activated less than 10 minutes after his arrival. The stroke neurologist “beamed in” on our stroke robot and a clot-busting medication was administered in the UNC Lenoir Emergency Department. The patient was then transferred to a comprehensive medical center. John had complete resolution of symptoms and made a full recovery.
In 2015, 4.6 percent of the Lenoir County Medicare population was treated for stroke -- 2,636 stroke victims representing 2,636 opportunities to reduce the risk of stroke damage. Reducing the damage caused by stroke was the catalyst for the launch of the UNC Lenoir stroke team, which is medically directed by Manasi Gahlot, MD, a local neurologist.
The team has extensive training in identifying stroke and responding to the stroke patient. With stroke, "time is brain" and the faster treatment begins, the less likelihood of permanent brain damage. The extensive work done by this team has resulted in UNC Lenoir Health Care receiving a Primary Stroke Care designation by The Joint Commission and the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association’s Get With The Guidelines®-Stroke Silver Plus Quality Achievement Award.
Stroke can be debilitating and a life-changing event, but risk of stroke can be reduced with the right lifestyle considerations. Manage your stroke risk by exercising, reducing stress, eating a healthy diet and quitting smoking. It can save your quality of life.
For more information on stroke and how you can reduce your risk of stroke, visit preventstrokes.org.
This health column was written by Dawn Becker, RN, BSN. Becker is the Stroke Program Coordinator at UNC Lenoir Health Care in Kinston