One of the most unexpected medical concerns affecting many Filipinos is stroke. According to statistics, nine out of 1,000 people develop stroke, and it is the leading cause of disability among Filipinos and the second leading cause of death in the Philippines.
A stroke is defined as a medical emergency wherein blood flow into the brain is interrupted either by bleeding inside the brain, or the blockage of blood vessels inside the brain.
Time: Quick Action Saves Lives
When it comes to treatment and management of stroke, time is of the essence. This is why it is important to know the early symptoms of a stroke: sudden drooping of one side of the face, one sided weakness or numbness, slurring of speech, imbalance, and doubling of vision.
In cases when there is an abrupt blockage in the brain vessels, the brain tissue may be rescued if blood flow is quickly restored after the onset of the stroke.
Previously, the treatment for stroke was a clot busting drug that dissolves dangerous clots in blood vessels. But since 2015, the standard care for stroke was revolutionized with mechanical thrombectomy: an image guided therapy through direct removal of a clot inside the brain vessel through manual extraction by stent and catheter devices to quickly restore the passage of blood into the brain tissue.
According to international studies, this procedure is beneficial even up to 16 hours after the onset of symptoms. Prior to mechanical thrombectomy, patients with severe stroke and those presented beyond six hours had less means to save the deprived brain tissue aside from routine post stroke care and prevention. This extended time window has saved lives, greatly reduces hospital stay, and has a faster recovery rate especially for those with moderate to severe stroke.
Transforming Stroke Care: Trust the Experts
The Medical City is one of the very few hospitals in the country that is capable of performing mechanical thrombectomy. With their 24/7 service, they boast of 80% excellent functional outcomes.
Their workflow starts from assessing the severity of the patient (triage), team activation, transport, and case preparation. A patient is immediately assessed by the Emergency Physicians team who will activate the Brain Attack Team—an expert team of neurologists, neuro-interventionalists, neurosurgeons, and stroke nurses trained in accurately identifying stroke patients. True to The Medical City's mission in delivering world class treatments to their patient partners, this same model is done in their Clark, South Luzon, and Iloilo facilities.
Dr. Erwin Jocson, an Interventional Neuroradiologist who rolled the series of successful mechanical thrombectomy cases for The Medical City stresses on the importance of access to a stroke ready hospital with a proven track record, ''the nearest hospital may not always be the right hospital.''
He works with a highly efficient Brain Attack team, and they have been at the forefront in reversing the major deficits, severely disabling and potentially fatal strokes of the Acute Stroke Unit.
The Importance of Awareness and Vigilance
According to Dr. Joann Soliven, neurologist and Head of the Acute Stroke Unit of The Medical City, stroke cases are becoming more frequent and alarmingly, have been affecting even the younger population.
''We must be more vigilant in promoting stroke awareness in the community. Everything starts from the community so we should spread the knowledge about stroke and its prevention,'' she said.
Furthermore, the importance of being a community, as ingrained in Filipino culture, also applies when saving lives.
''Neighboring hospitals that receive possible stroke patients who can benefit from either thrombolysis or mechanical thrombectomy can rush them to the nearest stroke-ready hospital such as The Medical City,'' she said.
TMC's emergency hotline is 8689-8153. To know more about the services of the Department of Neurology, Institute of Neurological Sciences, call 8988-1000 ext. 6270.
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