What to Know About Updated Stroke Treatment Guidelines

In January 2018, the American Heart Association (AHA) and American Stroke Association (ASA) released new stroke treatment guidelines that make more patients eligible for life-saving treatments.

The updated guidelines expand the treatment window for a clot-removal procedure, called a mechanical thrombectomy, from six hours to 24 hours after the stroke begins. This procedure is effective for the most severe strokes, those caused by large vessel blockages.

This change in guidelines will allow emergency medical services (EMS) to treat almost every patient that has stroke symptoms as a candidate for intervention treatment.

Just because the time frame and intervention treatment options have expanded doesn’t mean you should wait to seek medical attention if you or someone you know is experiencing a stroke. The sooner patients arrive at a hospital—ideally a certified primary stroke center—the more likely they are to receive lifesaving clot-removal treatments.

It’s important to call 9-1-1 at the first sign of stroke. Oftentimes the individual who’s experiencing the stroke is too disoriented to call 9-1-1, so it’s important to learn how to spot a stroke F-A-S-T.

F – Face drooping

A – Arm weakness

S – Speech difficulty

T – Time to call 9-1-1

Instead of driving the patient to the hospital, wait for EMS to arrive after calling 9-1-1. Immediate medical treatment saves lives. Getting the patient to the right facility the first time can lead to the best possible outcomes.