World Stroke Day is Saturday, and there may be no better place to raise awareness than in Central New York. Jennifer Schleier is a certified registered nurse andProgram Manager at Upstate’s Comprehensive Stroke Center. She recognizes the need for stroke education.
"Right here in Onondaga County, our rates of death are higher than the national averages, so we really have a lot of work to do right here in our own community."
Stroke is the 5th leading cause of death nationwide, but Schleier says treatment methods are improving. The American Heart Association recently released new guidelines for a treatment called endovascular therapy, which involves putting a catheter in the brain to retrieve the clot causing the stroke. Schleier explains this has expanded the window of opportunity for stroke treatment from 3 hours to 6 to 12 hours.
"We know that in stroke therapy, time is brain," Schleier said. "You're losing 1.9 million neurons every minute. We want to get the medications and therapies to you as quickly as possible."
However, she says successful treatments for stroke are dependent on patients and those around them to quickly recognize stroke symptoms and seek treatment.
"In the majority of cases, patients wait for a very long time," Schleier said. "Getting help, calling 911 and activating your EMS provider is extremely important."
Schleier says the lack of stroke treatment centers throughout New York State can also delay effective care. She says last year, Upstate developed a program called ‘Telestroke’ to assist areas where care is not readily available.
"We've partnered with many of the North Country hospitals to provide them with Telestroke," Schleier said. "What that means is if a stroke patient presents to their emergency department, we sort of beam in through video conferencing, and our neurologist will assess the patient, and decide on treatment options."
Schleier says they’d like to help North Country hospitals become primary stroke centers. More information on stroke recognition and treatment can be found at strokeassociation.org.