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Currently, the mainstay treatment to open arteries in the brain that have become clogged by a blood clot is the clot busting medicine TPA (tissue plasminogen activator). TPA has proven to be very effective in reestab­lishing blood flow through clogged arteries if given shortly after the onset of the stroke in accor­dance with strict protocols. Because the decision to give TPA must be made without undue delay, hospitals have been imple­menting Stroke Code policies and proce­dures to ensure compliance with the stringent require­ments for admin­is­tering TPA. As a result of these efforts, many hospitals now hold themselves out as providing expert stroke care. However, this can be deceiving.

Last month the results of two very important research projects pertaining to stroke were published in the New England Journal of Medicine. Both research projects revealed the dramatic reduction in disability and increased indepen­dence that are experi­enced when patients having a stroke are treated with TPA and neurovas­cular thrombectomy (mechanical removal of clot), rather that with TPA alone. The potential for deception exist because not all hospitals, including many that are certified stroke care centers, have the ability to perform neurovas­cular thrombectomy. If a stroke patient who needed tPA and thrombectomy were to be taken to stroke center that did not offer thrombectomy, they would either experience a poorer outcome or waste time while they were trans­ported to another hospital offering a higher level of care. When it comes to stroke, time lost is brain lost.

The care a person receives early in the stroke can affect their quality of life, for the rest of their life. This empha­sizes the impor­tance of knowing the stroke care capacity of the hospitals nearest to your home and insisting on being taken to the facility offering the highest level of care.

At the present time, there are three hospitals in Jacksonville that provide inter­ven­tional stroke care: Mayo Clinic, UF Shands, and Baptist Medical Center Downtown.

Cases involving stroke are extremely compli­cated and require unique medical expertise and under-standing of this medical condition. If you or a loved one has suffered brain damage from a stroke and believe it may have been someone else’s fault, consider having Terrell Hogan inves­tigate the stroke care that was furnished.

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