Emergency care

Ambulance crews and para-medics may use various tools to identify whether a patient has a stroke and to determine where to take the patient. Ideally, someone with a suspected stroke should be taken directly to a stroke unit in a hospital with access to immediate brain scanning, treatment to dissolve or mechanically remove blood clots, and neuro-surgery.

A widely used phrase in acute and emergency stroke care is “Time is brain” – the longer the blood supply is cut off from part of the brain, the worse brain damage will result. An immediate brain scan can determine the type of stroke someone has, and therefore the type of treatment that’s best for them. If they have had an ischaemic stroke they could benefit from drugs that dissolve the clot (thrombolysis) or the mechanical removal of the clot (thrombectomy) (https://www.stroke.org.uk/what-is-stroke/diagnosis-to-discharge/treatment). Brain scans also show where int the brain the stroke has occurred and the extent of damage it has caused.