Evaluating stroke cases
There is a well-known adage among medical professionals: “Time is tissue.” The delayed diagnosis of a cerebrovascular accident can have devastating impacts on patients, as the continued impairment of blood flow to an area causes widening tissue damage. The American Heart Association and American Stroke Association stress the acronym “FAST” to assist individuals in evaluating whether they are experiencing a stroke. The “T” stands for time, as medical professionals are capable of lessening the damages of a thrombotic stroke by providing one of two different therapies. Thrombotic (also known as ischemic) strokes make up approximately 80% of the 795,000 stroke occurring each year in the US.
TPA (Tissue plasminogen activator) is similar to Draino for thrombotic strokes: the medication breaks up clots that are blocking profusion of oxygenated blood to areas of the brain. However, TPA must be provided within a certain window of time, or the patient risks converting the thrombotic stroke to a hemorrhagic stroke. American physicians often abide by a 3 to 4.5 hour window of time to give TPA.
Endovascular surgeons are also capable of removing thrombotic strokes. The surgeon will introduce a catheter through the leg or arm, guide it to the brain, and remove the clot. The window of time available to perform this procedure is approximately twice as long as that to administer TPA.
The evaluation of a possible stroke case should begin with a careful consideration of when the stroke first occurred. If a patient delayed presenting to the hospital, a plaintiff’s attorney must carefully consider whether the patient was still a candidate for TPA or endovascular procedures.