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May is Stroke Awareness Month, and Dr. Juan Tejada of the Eskenazi Health Stroke Center recently shared some general information about what a stroke is, different treatment methods and what Eskenazi Health is doing to advance its care for stroke patients.

According to Dr. Tejada, the stroke that most people think of is called an ischemic cerebral stroke. An ischemic cerebral stroke is the death of brain tissues due to the lack of adequate blood flow to a specific area of the brain. It is caused by the sudden blockage or closing of a blood vessel in the brain. Since blood carries oxygen and nutrients to the brain, any blockage will cause the brain cells to die. 

Dr. Tejada said, the best way to treat a stroke is to open the occluded, or blocked, vessel and to re-establish blood flow to the brain. If the procedure can be completed in the appropriate time window, then the brain cells can be saved. In order to open the blocked blood vessel, a small –clot- catching device- called a stent retriever is used in conjunction with a catheter to remove the blockage. This procedure is performed by a neurologist.

A second form of treatment, which doesn’t require surgery, is through the use of intravenous (IV) drug treatment performed by and interventional neurologist. The IV drug works as a-clot buster-, which will help break up the clotted blood vessel. This treatment only works best when there is a small vessel blockage and can only work if the drug regimen is started no later than 4.5 hours after the stroke first occurred. 
In patients where a blockage of a large cerebral vessel is shown, the interventional neuroradiologist extracts the blocking blood clot to re- establish the normal blood flow to the brain, which will save the brain tissue from dying.  This form of treatment treatment translates in better patient outcomes as it is able to save the most brain tissue. Most of the patients that have this treatment provided at Eskenazi Health will be able to live independently 90 days after treatment. 

Dr. Tejada and the rest of the team in the Eskenazi Health Stroke Center are working hard to improve stroke treatment and provide the high quality of care. Eskenazi Health recently earned primary stroke center accreditation from The Joint Commission, which acknowledges the high quality of care that is provided to stroke patients. Eligibility standards include a dedicated stroke-focused program and staffing by qualified medical professionals trained in stroke care. 

Dr. Tejada said Eskenazi Health is providing additional support for stroke education. Currently there are monthly stroke lectures and this summer Eskenazi Health will host its first Stroke Nursing Conference. To help care for more patients, Eskenazi Health has also hired another interventional neuroradiologist to help with 24/7 coverage of stroke treatments. Dr. Tejada is also planning on developing a neuro intensive care unit for patients after the procedures.

The Eskenazi Health Stroke Center is located in the Michael & Susan Smith Emergency Department at Eskenazi Health. Dr. Tejada is the director of neurointerventional radiology at Eskenazi Health. He is also an associate professor of clinical radiology at the Indiana University School of Medicine. 

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