More Patients May Be Eligible for Stroke Treatment

(Honesdale, May 8, 2018)… May is National Stroke Awareness Month, and Wayne Memorial Hospital has good news to share on the stroke front. The hospital, a certified Primary Stroke Center, announced that some stroke patients who were previously ineligible for certain treatments may now qualify for those treatments.  New guidelines for these treatments, issued earlier this year by the American Heart Association and the American Stroke Association, are expected to help more people who experience an ischemic stroke. This is a type of stroke due to a blockage in an artery. The new guidelines extend the time when the clot busting medication known as tPA (IV alteplase) can be administered.  The former window, three hours, has now been extended to four and one-half hours after a stroke. This means that more patients may be eligible for tPA and the restoration of blood flow to their brain.

Researchers also found that increasing the window for a treatment known as mechanical clot removal can also benefit some patients.  The window had been six hours, but may be beneficial up to 24 hours after the onset of a stroke for patients who meet certain criteria.  Mechanical clot removal involves the use of a special catheter threaded through an artery to remove the clot responsible for the stroke. James Pettinato, director of Patient Care Services, called this positive news for ischemic stroke patients and their families.

“It means that at Wayne Memorial Hospital more patients will be eligible for advanced care,” said Pettinato.  He added that patients who qualify for tPA can be treated here at the hospital, but patients who require mechanical removal of their clot would need to be transferred to a comprehensive stroke center. At this time Geisinger Medical Center and Lehigh Valley Medical Center are the closest comprehensive stroke centers.

Wayne Memorial Hospital was certified as a Primary Stroke Center in 2014. The hospital’s Stroke Response Team meets the patient at the ambulance entrance to perform an emergency evaluation for acute stroke symptoms. The team may also evaluate the patient for acute stroke treatment via tele-neurology, a system which connects the stroke patient in real time, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, with a board-certified neurologist from Geisinger Health System.

Stroke is the fifth leading cause of death in the United States. It can also cause serious long-term disability. All year round, but especially during this month, Wayne Memorial reminds everyone to learn the risk factors of stroke, such as untreated high blood pressure, and recognize the warning signs. The symptoms can be remembered with the acronym F.A.S.T.: Facial drooping; Arm weakness; Speech difficulty; and Time to call 9-1-1.  

“If you or someone you know has any of these symptoms, call an ambulance. Do not drive, especially do not drive yourself,” stated Pettinato, “The earlier a stroke is recognized and

the patient receives medical attention, the greater chance of patient recovery. With stroke, ‘Time is Brain.’”

For more information on stroke visit Wayne Memorial’s website at Click on Primary Stroke Center.

Photo: Dr. Patrick Pugliese, Medical Director of the Emergency Department, stands next to telemedicine equipment connecting to a neurologist at Geisinger.