Dr. Seemant Chaturvedi, M.D.
Director, DMC Comprehensive Stroke Center
DMC Detroit Receiving Hospital (DRH)
(part 1 of a 3-part series)
"Stroke patients resume normal life when treated by breakthrough technologies"
The stroke program at DMC Detroit Receiving Hospital offers a depth of expertise and experience that provides significantly better options for stroke patients.
Many Americans fear stroke more than death, according to a study published in 2007, because of the after effects—the disabling features that often require months or more of rehabilitation. But for those of us living within driving distance of Detroit Receiving Hospital, a stroke need not be a life-altering event, although still a serious one.
A drug that has commonly helped physicians stop a heart attack in its tracks was found to have the same effect on a stroke. The drug, tPA, needs to be administered to the patient within three hours of the onset of symptoms. When this occurs, the patient re-enters his or her life in the same condition it was before the stroke—without deficits from the stroke itself. This near-miraculous treatment has already helped hundreds of patients at Detroit Receiving.
However, some stroke patients are in denial when the symptoms begin. Sometimes, the family member becomes aware of it some while after the stroke has begun. In this case, not knowing how long the stroke has been underway, physicians in the emergency room must rely on other factors.
Also, not every patient can take tPA. If a family member is there to answer questions about the patient’s health history to establish eligibility for tPA, that is of course the best option. But if the family member is not sure how long the symptoms have been going on, Detroit Receiving’s certified stroke specialists can still help—by using an innovative new technology.
This technology is a very tiny catheter with a tinier umbrella that the interventional neurologist threads through the brain’s pathways to the clot, removes it, the umbrella trapping any loose pieces that could move on and launch another brain attack. This catheter, called the Merci Clot Retriever, is only available at Detroit Receiving Hospital because this is the only hospital in the state with interventional neurologists who can perform the procedure. Like tPA, the results are nearly miraculous in the difference it makes for the patient. The patient re-enters his or her life without deficits, without the need for months of rehabilitation care, because the Merci Clot Retriever has stopped the stroke and the damage that disables the brain. The window of opportunity for the Merci Clot Retriever is eight hours from the onset of symptoms, although our specialists have occasionally had the same results with slightly longer delays.
Next week: How the specialists of the state’s first certified stroke program provide state-of-the-art care for all stroke patients.
For more information or to consult with a Detroit Receiving neurologist, call (313) 745-1540.
For more information on stroke prevention and general health information, please visit our DMC Health Library page at http://www.dmc.org/healthlibrary.
Dr. Seemant Chaturvedi is Professor of Neurology at Wayne State University School of Medicine and Director of the Wayne State/Detroit Medical Center Comprehensive Stroke Program. He received his undergraduate degree from Princeton University, completed medical school at the University of Connecticut, a neurology residency at the University of Massachusetts Medical Center, and a stroke fellowship at the University of Western Ontario.
Dr. Chaturvedi has co-edited the books Transient Ischemic Attacks in 2004 and Carotid Artery Stenosis: Current and Emerging Treatments in 2005. He was chairman of the American Academy of Neurology carotid endarterectomy guidelines committee, with the guidelines published in 2005. He is currently on the steering committee of several stroke prevention studies. His research interests include carotid revascularization, intracranial atherosclerosis, and stroke in young adults.