With Stroke Every Minute Counts

When someone is having a stroke, every second matters.

Stroke is the number one cause of long term disability, and currently the fourth highest cause of death in the United States. A stroke causes the death of brain cells by interrupting blood supply either by a clot blockage or a bursting blood vessel.

Health professionals urge patients to act fast, call 911, and get to the hospital as quickly as possible if he or she is showing the symptoms of stroke.

Some promising treatments exist that require clot-busting medication to be administered within a short window –ideally within three hours – from the onset of symptoms. If delivered quickly enough, the medication can significantly reduce the effects of stroke.

Unfortunately, too few patients meet that window. National statistics show fewer than 5 percent of those who suffer a stroke reach the hospital within those precious hours.

“Time lost is brain lost so it’s literally true that every second matters,” said Molly Griffis, the stroke program coordinator for Tucson Medical Center.

The majority of strokes are ischemic, which stem from a blockage. During an ischemic stroke, 32,000 brain neurons are lost or die every second, Griffis said. By the time an hour passes, 120 million neurons are lost. The significance of that loss will vary, depending on the size of the clot and what area of the brain is affected.

“Our goal from arrival is to work together as a team to treat the ischemic stroke patient within what we call the ‘golden hour,’ Griffis said. “People can go on to live a long, happy, quality life, and become a stroke survivor, but we really need to get treatment started as soon as possible.” 

Some signs to watch out for include drooping on one side of the face, weakness in one arm or slurred speech.

Other symptoms of a possible stroke include:

•        Sudden numbness or weakness of the face, arm or leg, especially on one side of the body

•        Sudden confusion or trouble speaking or understanding

•        Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes

•        Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination

•        Sudden severe headache with no known  cause

If you, a loved one, or someone you witness is experiencing these symptoms, call 911, and have an ambulance go to the nearest certified stroke center.

Tucson Medical Center has received the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association’s Get with the Guidelines -Stroke Gold Plus Quality Achievement Award. TMC was the first hospital in Southern Arizona to achieve this designation, which recognizes long-term excellent care for stroke patients.

Tucson Medical Center has also been awarded Primary Stroke Certification from the Healthcare Facilities Accreditation Program (HFAP), an independent, nationally recognized accreditation authority. It earned this distinction after HFAP conducted an extensive and objective review of the hospital’s stroke program.


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Tucson Medical Center | 5301 E. Grant Road | Tucson, Arizona 85712 | (520) 327-5461
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