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Successful stroke care comes down to time
Published: 4/5/2022
It’s a scene Dr. Boyd Richards and Dr. Prashant Kelkar have seen play out far too often. Someone is at home or work and suddenly starts to experience some symptoms of a stroke – headache, weakness, difficulty speaking – and they mistakenly think it will pass with time.

The issue with that line of thinking is that when it comes to stroke care, time truly is everything. Time could mean the difference between a full recovery and a potentially debilitating outcome. Strokes are the No. 5 killer and leading preventable cause of disability in America.

“Once brain cells start to die, there is nothing a doctor can do about it,” said Dr. Richards, Medical Director, Stroke Service, at Ascension Providence Hospitals. “Our goal is to get blood flow back to the brain as fast as possible to prevent death of cells.”

It is critical that once a person starts to experience the sudden symptoms of a stroke that they get to the nearest hospital Emergency Department. For many patients, the blood clot can be treated with a clot-dissolving medication so long as it is given within three hours of the first signs of stroke.

With a larger clot, a special procedure called a thrombectomy may be needed. This procedure must be done within six hours of the onset of a stroke.

Simply put, time matters.

Dr. Kelkar said he has had patients wait a week before receiving care. The impacts of such a delay are long lasting and could even result in death.

“It is better to question in hindsight why you came to the emergency room than why you stayed home,” he said. “We cannot help those who do not come. That is the most critical part.”

If you are having stroke symptoms, there’s no better place to live than Novi, home to the only Comprehensive Stroke Center in the area. The team at Ascension Providence Hospital in Novi is trained and certified to receive and treat the most complex stroke cases.

The care starts from the second you arrive in the Emergency Department and continues with the neurologists, neurosurgeons, neuroradiologists, neuro-intensivists and rehabilitation specialists who work together to deliver positive outcomes. The hospital is also home to a large Neurosurgery Residency program that conducts a variety of research while also putting more “boots on the ground” to provide a higher level of care.

“We are fully equipped above and beyond what any healthcare system in southeast Michigan has,” said Dr. Kelkar. “I cannot say any surrounding hospital has this type of infrastructure. We do it all and do it all very well.”

May is National Stroke Awareness Month, which means it is a great time to learn more about Ascension Michigan stroke care, your risks, or find a doctor by visiting Ascension.org/MichiganStroke.