June is Stroke Awareness Month, a good time to announce that The Neuro’s Stroke Unit will expand in the Fall of 2019 when 15 beds will be transferred from the Montreal General Hospital (MGH), bringing the total number of beds at The Neuro to 30.
The Stroke Unit team is an award-winning group of professionals from several disciplines dedicated to helping patients achieve the best possible outcome as quickly as possible after a stroke. It’s one of two tertiary stroke centres in Montreal. This means they treat victims of hyper-acute stroke, which is a stroke that has occurred within 10-12 hours before the patient’s arrival at the hospital.
Studies at The Neuro over the last few years have been key for the re-evaluation of thrombectomy as an effective stroke treatment. Thrombectomy is a radiological procedure where a catheter is inserted into an artery, moves up towards the clot that caused the stroke, and traps the clot which is then pulled out of the vessel along with the catheter. This removes the blockage of the artery and allows the blood to return to the brain, hopefully reversing the effects of the stroke.
Thrombectomies have been around for many years but, for a long time, the scientific literature could not demonstrate that they were effective. In the past few years, many studies have shown that pulling out the clot is a good thing if it’s performed in the right patients and without delay. In these cases, as soon as you remove the clot, there are remarkable benefits.
The Neuro now has two beds dedicated to thrombolysis patients in the acute care area. Neuro patients who receive thrombolysis treatments are transferred out of the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) and into an acute care area faster, freeing up ICU beds and giving the patients more specialized care.
The Stroke Unit staff includes the following specialists:
Neurologist: Dr. Lucy Vieira
Nurse manager: Jessica Dumoulin
Assistant nurse managers: Rick Sanchez and Rosalynn Bautista
Clinical nurse specialist: Gabriel Domocos
Physiotherapist: Allison Jacobson
Occupational therapist: Tanya Santagata
Speech language pathologists: Kalyna Franko and Andreanne Laberge-Poirier
Nutritionist: Roxana Nedelcu
Social workers: Jennyfer Garcia Cruz and Christina Kalavritinos
Neuro-radiologist: Dr. Maria Del Pilar Cortes Nino
Neurosurgeons: Dr. David Sinclair and Dr. Denis Sirhan
What is Stroke?
Strokes are categorized as either hemorrhagic or ischemic.
A hemorrhagic stroke occurs when a blood vessel in the brain ruptures. Consequent cerebral damage depends on the region of the brain that was affected and on the length of time that the hemorrhaging continued. The effects of a hemorrhagic stroke can be greatly limited if a patient receives surgical intervention within a few hours of the event, so it is essential to transport a patient to hospital as soon as possible.
In an ischemic stroke, blood flow to the brain is interrupted because of a blockage in an artery. The blockage must be removed within a few hours to prevent serious cerebral damage. If the interruption is very brief, the stroke is called a Transient Ischemic Attack (TIA) and the effects are negligible. Nonetheless, someone who has a TIA is five times more likely to have a major stroke within two years.
A major stroke can have serious consequences on a person’s ability to speak, see, read and write, recall events, or move normally. It can also be fatal. About 14,000 Canadians die from strokes each year, making stroke Canada’s third-leading cause of death.
Some of the warning signs of stroke: weakness, problems with speech or vision, severe headache, dizziness causing loss of balance. High blood pressure is the main risk factor for stroke. In Canada, one out of five people has high blood pressure.