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Roseville, Calif. – Timely treatment for someone experiencing signs of a stroke is crucial for survival. That is why Asim Mahmood, M.D., regional medical director of stroke services for the Sutter Neuroscience Institute, wants to get the word out during May – Stroke Awareness Month – about how to recognize and treat a stroke.

Common stroke symptoms are usually sudden, including onset weakness on one side of the body, severe headache, and difficulty with vision, balance or speaking. Dr. Mahmood says it is important for people to know the signs of a stroke and get help as fast as possible if they or others are experiencing these symptoms.

“It is imperative that they call 911 right away and have them brought to Sutter Auburn Faith Hospital,” said Dr. Mahmood, who is based at Sutter Roseville Medical Center. “We have emergency treatments available that can limit the extent of the damage to the brain and those can only be beneficial within the first three hours.”

If patients are brought to a Primary Stroke Center hospital in a timely manner, Dr. Mahmood says they can be treated with a procedure called tissue plasminogen activators, or tPA, but it must be administered within three hours of the onset of a stroke.

“It’s a clot-busting medicine,” he said. “We can dissolve this clot to the brain and restore the circulation. This medicine can limit any potential damage to the brain from the stroke.”

In order to educate the public on strokes, their causes, their symptoms and new treatment options – as well as what can be done to help reduce the long-term effects – the Sutter Neuroscience Institute is hosting two free community lectures. Auburn neurologist Kanwardeep S. Grewal, M.D., and Stroke Nurse Tess Carter will lead a lecture from 5:30-7 p.m. Tuesday, May 22, at Sutter Auburn Faith Hospital, 11815 Education St., Auburn. Dr. Mahmood will lead a second free community lecture from 5:30-7 p.m. Thursday, May 24, at Sutter Roseville Medical Center, One Medical Plaza Drive, Roseville.

In the past three years, all Sutter hospitals in Placer, Sacramento and Yolo counties have received Advanced Primary Stroke Center certification from The Joint Commission, an independent, not-for-profit organization that accredits and certifies hospitals across the United States to provide acute stroke treatment. The Sutter Neuroscience Institute, the Sacramento-Sierra Region’s most comprehensive neurology and neurosurgery program, is leading the charge to have all Sutter hospitals in the region certified as Primary Stroke Centers. It allows these hospitals to share resources, standardize care and work together in order to ensure that anyone who comes to the hospital with stroke symptoms will receive the correct, quickest care for the best possible outcome.

“Having hospitals in a health system that are all Primary Stroke Centers helps standardize stroke care and bring awareness to the staff and community in order to improve outcomes,” Dr. Mahmood said. “In addition, multiple facilities that are connected and taking similar care of patients are attractive sites for clinical research, which is another service to local communities.”

The Sutter Neuroscience Institute has the most comprehensive stroke program in the region, with three board-certified stroke neurologists, specialized neurointerventionalists and neurosurgeons, and neuroradiology imaging technology. In addition, the Sutter Rehabilitation Center on the Sutter Roseville campus has built a reputation in just three years as being the premier center for stroke rehab in the region.

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