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Interlake-Eastern Regional Health Authority Launches Stroke Guidelines

Ensuring people experiencing a stroke are fast tracked for appropriate care


June 11, 2014Interlake-Eastern Regional Health Authority (RHA) is rolling out stroke guidelines across the region to ensure that health care providers can link people experiencing stroke symptoms with the medical care they require as quickly as possible.


Under Interlake-Eastern RHA’s stroke guidelines, physicians, nurses and clinic staff are being trained to evaluate people’s stroke risk level. If stroke symptoms are identified early enough, health care providers can send a patient by ambulance to Winnipeg hospitals where neurologists and radiologists are available. Training in the RHA’s stroke guidelines has been going on since April of this year and all targeted staff in the region will be trained by the end of this month.


According to Dr. Myron Thiessen, vice president of medical services and chief medical officer with Interlake-Eastern RHA, stroke can impact any number of areas including the ability to move, see, remember, speak, reason, read and write.


“Stroke can be treated if it’s caught in time. When dealing with a stroke, time is brain tissue,” Thiessen said. “If you come into one of our health care facilities and if you’ve experienced symptoms of a stroke, medical staff can initiate the evaluation that will link you with stroke specific care without delay.”


Thiessen reminded people that there are five commonly recognized warning signs of stroke: sudden weakness or numbness, trouble speaking, vision problems, headache and dizziness. He advises people that a stroke is a medical emergency and that people need to call 911, or the appropriate number in their area to contact EMS services, without delay when experiencing symptoms of a stroke. 


“Our EMS teams have had stroke guidelines in place since 2010. The moment your call is answered, you’ll have access to care until EMS personnel arrive. The EMS staff will evaluate your condition then take you to the most appropriate care providers who can assess your treatment options to reduce the effects of the stroke. In many cases this may mean direct transport to a designated hospital in Winnipeg,” Thiessen said.


A stroke is a sudden loss of brain function caused by either the interruption of blood flow to the brain (ischemic stroke) or the rupture of blood vessels in the brain (hemorrhagic stroke). Ischemic strokes can also be experienced in a form of transient or “mini strokes” where people experience the symptoms of a stroke for only a short period of time while blood flow is restricted temporarily by a clot. These mini strokes are warning signs that the risk of a more serious stroke is increased.


After a stroke, brain cells (neurons) in the affected area of the brain die. The effects of a stroke depend on where the brain was injured, as well as how much damage occurred.


According to the Manitoba Stroke Strategy 2011 released in June 2011, approximately seven people per day will suffer a stroke in Manitoba, resulting in 2,500 strokes per year. Up to 1,200 people who have a stroke will require hospital admission.


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