Newer treatment techniques now make it possible for stroke patients to get treated and bounce back to health even if they reach a hospital well over the recommended three hours after having a stroke.
When Pataudi-resident Rajendra Prasad, 68, collapsed one morning, his family took him to a nearby clinic. Several tests and a large bill later, he was referred to Medanta in Gurgaon.
Prasad reached Medanta eight hours after the attack, which is considered too late to prevent permanent damage that often leads to paralysis. By then, paralysis had set in: his speech was slurred and he could not move his left side.
An MRI showed that some parts of his brain could be revived if the blood flow to his brain was restored quickly.
Since almost eight hours had passed, clot-busting drug injections, meant to be given within three hours, would not have worked. So the doctors used a device called the “penumbra” to restore blood flow to his brain.
“A penumbra is a device with special tubes called catheters that break and suck out the clot. We inserted the device through the leg arteries and went up to the blocked blood vessel in the brain to restore the flow,” said Dr Vipul Gupta, head of neuro-intervention at Medanta, who did the intervention.
Prasad’s condition improved and he started moving his left side within days. He was back to normal within two months.
“In this case, blood flow was restored eight hours after the stroke and the patient recovered completely. The penumbra can prevent disability for up to eight hours, though the sooner it is used, the lower the permanent damage,” said Dr Gupta.
Treating early is vital to minimise brain damage and disability. “Awareness is low even among general physicians and people often reach specialists too late,” says Dr Gupta.