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Think fast when it comes to a stroke
Published: 3/22/2021
Time is brain. That’s been the age-old saying when it comes to stroke care, as the sooner a person can get to the hospital to receive treatment the better the chance of them having a good outcome. Strokes are the No. 5 killer and leading cause of disability in America.

For Novi residents, having a Comprehensive Stroke Center (CSC) in their backyard at Ascension Providence Hospital, Novi Campus, could truly be the difference between life and death. The CSC is the highest level of stroke care available in the country and means patients will have access to advanced imaging techniques and 24/7 availability of highly trained personnel who have the experience, expertise and facilities capable of treating patients experiencing a variety of strokes.

Dr. Julius Griauzde, Co-Medical Director of the Comprehensive Stroke Center at Ascension Providence Novi, said having this type of care nearby is “very significant.”

“Any delay in care puts you at risk of having a worse outcome from a stroke,” he said. “Strokes used to be thought of as a non-treatable disease, but now it is something we can treat up to 24 hours and the patient will still have a benefit.”

Technological advances have increased the time window for stroke care, but time still is of the essence. About 87% of strokes are ischemic, meaning the stroke is caused by a blood clot that blocks blood flow to an area of the brain. Starved of blood and oxygen, brain cells begin dying. The work Dr. Griauzde specializes in is called a mechanical thrombectomy where he uses a stent retriever to pull the clot out. It is considered the gold standard in treatment and can save a life and reduce long-term effects.

Often a person does not realize they are having a stroke, but recognizing symptoms is important. The acronym B.E.F.A.S.T is something everyone should know – Balance loss, Eyesight trouble, Face Drooping, Arm Weakness, Speech Difficulty, and Time to call 9-1-1. Even if you are unsure, one should always err on the side of caution and seek care.

A Transient Ischemic Attack (TIA) is often called a mini stroke, but actually is a major warning. This is a temporary blockage of blood flow to the brain and since it doesn’t cause permanent damage it is often ignored. Dr. Griauzde said this may be a sign that a major stroke is ahead, and people should immediately get to the hospital.

“Sometimes people have them, and they go away in a few hours and they don’t think about it anymore,” he said. “But really it’s a warning sign you are at risk of having a significant stroke.”

As with most diseases, people can and should control and treat their risk factors. If you’re a smoker, stop. Control your blood sugar if you are a diabetic, eat healthy and avoid foods high in sodium or calories, make physical exercise part of your routine and keep your weight in check.

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.