Expert Health Articles

Comprehensive Stroke Care is Closer Than You May Realize

Dr. Deepak Gulati

Neurologist and Stroke Specialist at The Ohio State University

The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center an affiliate of Blanchard Valley Health System

When someone is having a stroke, every minute counts.

Strokes happen when blood flow to the brain stops. Within minutes, brain cells begin to die. That’s why stroke specialists often say “time is brain.”

There are two kinds of stroke’s. The more common kind, ischemic stroke, is caused by a blood clot that blocks or plugs a blood vessel in the brain. Hemorrhagic stroke is caused by a blood vessel that breaks and bleeds into the brain. "Mini-strokes," or transient ischemic attacks (TIAs), occur when the blood supply to the brain is briefly interrupted.

Symptoms of stroke include:

  • Sudden numbness or weakness of the face, arm or leg (especially on one side of the body)
  • Sudden confusion, trouble speaking or understanding speech
  • Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes
  • Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination
  • Sudden severe headache with no known cause

Anyone with these symptoms should immediately call 911.

Both Blanchard Valley Hospital and Bluffton Hospital are part of The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center’s Telestroke Network. Ohio State is the hub for the Telestroke Network, which delivers critical stroke expertise into 25 hospitals throughout Ohio.

One of the major goals of the Telestroke Network is to increase access to advanced stroke care in regions of Ohio. When someone is taken to one of those emergency departments with stroke symptoms, experts are mobilized both there and at Ohio State through a “stroke alert.”

The Telestroke Network utilizes video technology that directly links stroke specialists to the hospital physicians. This allows the stroke specialists team to interview the patient, view test results and vital signs and prescribe intravenous clot-buster medications to be administered within minutes.

Then stroke specialists work together with physicians to determine what the next best step is for the patient’s treatment. Acute stroke therapies try to stop a stroke while it is happening by quickly dissolving the blood clot or by stopping the bleeding. Patient outcomes improve with early action in treatment and restoring blood flow. Therefore, it is critical that treatment start as soon as possible. For every hour’s delay in medical treatment, the brain loses 120 million cells.

Post-stroke rehabilitation will also help individuals overcome disabilities that result from stroke damage. Drug therapy with blood thinners is the most common treatment for stroke.