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January 28, 2014 > A Glimpse into the Future of Stroke Care

A Glimpse into the Future of Stroke Care

After Stroke: Maintain an Open Mind and Move Forward

On New YearÕs Eve, many of us made resolutions to improve our health in 2014. Get more exercise, improve my diet, get more sleep, cut down on sodium, quit smoking. Sound familiar?
Another less obvious resolution to add to that list is staying up-to-date about the latest advancements in medical care, particularly the diagnosis and treatment of stroke, a potentially deadly medical condition. Also known as a Òbrain attack,Ó stroke remains the third leading cause of death and the No. 1 cause of long-term disability in the United States, according to Dr. Ash Jain, M.D., medical director of Washington HospitalÕs Stroke Program.
ÒThe challenge with stroke is that most people donÕt think about it until it affects them or someone close to them, because the disease develops slowly over time and often seems to happen without warning,Ó Dr. Jain says.
Despite the fact that stroke represents the leading cause of long-term disability in the United States and impacts nearly 800,000 people annuallyÑincluding first and recurrent strokesÑpeople tend to have a lot of misconceptions about the disease, Dr. Jain says.
ÒUnfortunately, there are too many people who donÕt realize that ischemic strokeÑwhich represents 90 percent of stroke casesÑis highly preventable. In fact, many people still believe that stroke canÕt be prevented or treated, which is not true.Ó
Another common misunderstanding about stroke is the assumption that it only happens to the elderly.
ÒStroke may be most common in the 65 and older population, but we continue to see more and more patients in the ER who are in their 40s, 50s and 60s.Ó
Next Tuesday, Feb. 4, Dr. Jain will present a free Stroke Education Series seminar to help community members better understand the latest advances in the diagnosis and treatment of stroke.
Evolving Stroke Care Saves Lives
The first step for community members in combatting stroke is to recognize it early and seek help.
ÒKnowing the signs of stroke and recognizing when to seek medical attention plays a significant role in improving stroke outcomes,Ó Dr. Jain says. ÒOnce they call 9-1-1 in the event of stroke the cascade of care for the event starts.Ó
ÒEverybody from there on is on a clock, as time is of essence. Paramedics, Emergency Room staff, nurses, and doctors are all on alert and know exactly what they have to do to make sure we can achieve the best outcomes.Ó
As a certified Primary Stroke Center, WashingtonÕs program offers comprehensive care, including state-of-the-art treatment and diagnostic tools. During his upcoming talk, Dr. Jain will cover the latest developments, as well as whatÕs to come in stroke care.
ÒOur programÕs primary objective is to achieve the most efficient means of diagnosis and proven acute management techniques,Ó he says, adding that one of the ways that Washington HospitalÕs program has stayed ahead of the curve is by actively seeking the most up-to-date data availableÑand then going beyond.
As a result, the Stroke Program at Washington Hospital is able to offer care that is at the cutting edge of acute stroke management, bringing the program closer to its ongoing goal of becoming a nationally recognized leader in the field.
ÒAs advancements in research are made, we modify our treatment accordingly, which enables us to provide the latest care at a local level,Ó he says. ÒThe tools and knowledge base for acute stroke management are constantly growing and improving, and our program has worked hard to stay at the forefront of the research.Ó
Community members, though, have the most important role when it comes to successful stroke outcomes, Dr. Jain says.
ÒWhen people understand how devastating stroke can be and they know to call 9-1-1 immediately, it can save a life.Ó
Love, WorkÑand Stroke
ÒSigmund Freud said that for a human being to be psychologically healthy, he or she needed two thingsÑlove and work,Ó says Doug Van Houten, R.N., clinical coordinator of Washington HospitalÕs Stroke Program. ÒWhen a person has a stroke, however, everything changes.Ó
A sudden life change, as in the case of stroke, is always challenging, according to Van Houten.
ÒMarital relationships can be adversely affected when one spouse suffers a stroke; roles can change,Ó he points out. ÒThe spouse who was the breadwinnerÑor kept the home up, or handled the family finances, or took care of the yardÑmay not be able to continue in this role.Ó
Ultimately, the equal partnership of a marriage may suddenly turn into a caregiver-care receiver relationship.
ÒWhen the stroke survivorÕs social, marital, or love life is impaired with a stroke, life can be devastating for both the survivor and the spouse,Ó according to Van Houten. ÒThere are many resources, however, and those in committed relationships seem to maintain that same level of commitment after the stroke. There seems to be a need to step back and evaluate after the stroke, and expressing love and intimacy may just be different after the stroke.Ó
The key to success, he says, is for both members in the relationship to maintain and open mind and commit to moving forward. Likewise, stroke survivors have to find a way to satisfy the need to work and be useful.
Van Houten suggests the following to regain a sense of purpose and fulfillment:
* Volunteering
* Helping care for grandchildren
* Finding a new hobby (e.g., gardening, teaching adults to read, joining a service organization, etc.)
* Finding something new to do that is also fun
* Taking over some aspect of keeping the household togetherÑcooking, watering, etc.
ÒRemember, Freud didnÕt say you had to be paid for the work to be valuable,Ó Van Houten explains. ÒAfter stroke, the goal is to find an endeavor that you can improve on and that provides satisfaction.
What Does the Future Hold?
To find out what the future holds in the field of acute management of stroke and also learn about living with stroke, attend the free community education seminar on Tuesday, Feb. 4, from 6 to 8 p.m. in the Conrad E. Anderson, M.D. Auditorium, Rooms A and B, in the Washington West building at 2500 Mowry Avenue in Fremont.
To register for the seminar, visit www.whhs.com or call (800) 963-7070.

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