Stroke Center of Pirmasens
More than 270,000 people in Germany fall victim to a stroke each year. Young people are also not exempt from this fate; around ten percent of all stroke victims are under the age of 40.
In acute cases, action must be taken immediately to minimise damage to the brain.
That is why the Municipal Hospital of Pirmasens features a Stroke Unit.
A stroke unit is a highly specialised department – similar to an intensive care unit – that is focussed on the treatment of stroke patients. The Stroke Unit at the Municipal Hospital of Pirmasens is recognised under the Hospital Plan of the State of Rhineland-Palatinate and is certified from the personnel, professional and technical point of view.
Recognition is predicated upon the provision of appropriate structures. In the Stroke Unit of the Municipal Hospital of Pirmasens, the patient receives interdisciplinary treatment by an experienced team of specialists in neurology, cardiology and radiology, in accordance with the guidelines. Other members of the treatment team include specially trained nurses, physiotherapists, speech therapists and occupational therapists.
To be able to act without delay, the treatment team is on call 24 hours a day. Added to this is state-of-the-art apparatus-based equipment for continuous monitoring of patients’ vital signs.
In contrast to a general hospital that lacks these structures, patients admitted and treated in a stroke unit have significantly better treatment outcomes, according to scientific findings.
A stroke is an emergency
A stroke usually catches its victims unprepared, with no alarming warning signs occurring in advance; it is the proverbial ‘stroke from out of the blue’. A stroke is an absolute emergency, because every minute counts once it occurs. The maxim that applies is: ‘lost time is lost brain!’
A stroke may accompany two different diseases:
- in the case of cerebral ischaemia, the blood supply to the brain is interrupted due to arterial blockage or an embolism due to a protracted blood clot. The brain or parts of it suffer from acute undersupply – and a lack of oxygen in particular.
- This stands in stark contrast to the brain haemorrhage, in which a blood vessel in the brain bursts. The escaping blood then floods parts of the brain from the outside, interrupting proper supply via the vessels.
Both acute defects lead to the death and loss of nerve cells, with (nearly) identical symptoms. Treatment for the two, however, is necessarily almost diametrically opposed, as a blocked vessel is something completely different from a ruptured one.
Even if it costs valuable time, computer tomography is mandatory before treatment can begin. Only then can the disease be correctly identified and the right therapy determined.
The first hours are decisive
Approximately 70 percent of those affected suffer a permanent disorder after a stroke; nearly one stroke victim in four will have to rely upon constant assistance. In each case, whether or not a stroke ends in personal disaster is a matter decided in the first hours after the event. Their motto: the sooner an infarction is detected, the greater the patient’s chances of living his or her life without significant restrictions later on.
Symptoms of stroke
The symptoms of a stroke can be not only very complex qualitatively but can also vary greatly in their severity.
One factor all symptoms have in common is the central element of sudden onset.
Typical and characteristic symptoms are paralysis of the arm, leg or face; sudden disturbances of sensation in these areas are also highly suspicious symptoms of an acute stroke. Important symptoms are also sudden disturbances of vision or speech or emerging difficulty swallowing.
A sudden disturbance of consciousness can also be a manifestation of an acute stroke. These may be joined by non-specific symptoms such as dizziness, headache and nausea.
Symptoms can be dramatic in their severity, such as sudden loss of the ability to speak. However, there can also be only barely noticed, discrete findings such as, for example, a slightly drooping corner of the mouth.
Because the factor of time is extremely important in the treatment of stroke, the patient should be taken to the emergency room immediately for investigation of all unclear symptoms that have suddenly appeared.
The special aspects of treatment in a stroke unit revolve around the skills of staff and the equipment on hand.
Patients in a stroke unit are visited and examined on a differentiated basis several times a day by specialists in neurology and cardiology.
Physiotherapy/occupational therapy and speech therapy play a central role in the treatment of strokes, which is why patients receive daily care in this ward, including on weekends and holidays. There are significantly more specially trained nurses available here than in a normal ward – so the situation is similar to that of an intensive care unit.
This quantitatively and qualitatively very high staffing of the stroke unit ensures that patients will receive the best possible care.
The Stroke Unit at the Municipal Hospital of Pirmasens has an extensive range of highly technical equipment. A special feature in this regard is the continuous heart monitoring provided over the course of several days. This is important as certain cardiac arrhythmias can be the cause of strokes; that makes constant monitoring during the acute phase of a stroke very important.
In contrast to a normal ward, important diagnostics – such as ultrasound examinations of the vessels that supply the brain, and echocardiographies of the heart – can be carried out without difficulty directly at the patient’s bed thanks to the way this ward has been built.