Unlike a heart attack, stroke patients do not feel any pain, making it difficult to identify it. Which is why doctors have come up with the acronym BE FAST (Balance, Eyes, Face drooping, Arm weakness, Slurred speech, and Time) to identify signs of stroke in time.
Patients usually experience a sudden problem with their sense of balance, have blurred vision, double vision or loss of sight in one or both eyes. There could be facial drooping, weakness or paralysis on one side of the body, and slurred speech.
If a patient gets to hospital within four hours of a stroke, they are immediately given a medicine to dissolve the blood clot obstructing the artery, restoring blood flow to the brain. This treatment is effective in only 10% of patients.
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However, with mechanical thrombectomy, 90% of patients who get to hospital in time can be cured. A small incision is made in the thigh and catheters inserted using an imaging machine in the cath lab.
The catheter travels along the major arteries until it retrieves the clot to allow the blood to flow again.
In the case of haemorrhagic stroke, surgery to clip the blood vessel is now replaced with a method called endovascular coiling in which the catheter inserts platinum coils to block the aneurysm.
This non-invasive mechanical thrombectomy was first devised in 2015, and it was already available at the Neuro Hospital in Kathmandu four years later. Its biplane cath lab has been treating up to 25 patients a month.