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Golden Hour for Stroke: August 04, 2011

Every second counts when it comes to a stroke.

“My husband just says I was in the bathroom and I was in a heap, and he knew right away,” says Marge Vermeyen.

Marge is living with the after affects of a sudden stroke. The quicker a patient gets treatment, the more likely they are to qualify for clot buster medications and less likely to have lasting damage.

“We certainly have great zeal with those patients who qualify with the dry stroke, early in the course of stroke, to hope to treat them with clot busters, with thrombolytic therapy,” says Dr. Ross Levine medical director of vascular neurologist with Lee Memorial Health System.

Clot busters are the only approved therapy for the so-called dry or ischemic stroke. The most common type of stroke, it occurs when the brain is deprived of oxygen because the main artery closed down or was clogged by a piece of plaque or a blood clot. There is a window of time these medications can be delivered.

You might hear of a golden hour for traumas, meaning the quicker someone gets to the hospital in an emergency the more likely they are to have a better outcome. Now that same action plan is being applied to strokes.

“When you’re brought in as rapidly as possible from the moment you hit the door to when those who qualify can be treated with clot busters, that golden hour- we want to do it as quickly as possible,” says Dr. Levine.

National guidelines clear a three-hour window to administer clot busters.

“Within that three hours - people treated in the first hour do much better than in the second or third hour,” says Dr. Levine.

Since time is of the essence, it’s crucial to recognize the symptoms. They include: sudden numbness, confusion, trouble speaking, dizziness and severe headaches. Having gone through it once, Marge knows the signs.

“I think I would now, I’m more conscious, you know like if I got dizzy or something.”

At the first sign of a stroke, the first move should be to call 9-1-1.