October 26, 2006 07:00 ET

Sunnybrook Stroke Experts Encourage Awareness

Stroke a global epidemic threatening lives, health and quality of life

Attention: Assignment Editor, City Editor, Health/Medical Editor, Media Editor, News Editor TORONTO/ONTARIO--(CCNMatthews - Oct. 26, 2006) - As a global leader in the care of stroke patients Sunnybrook is pleased to be a part of world stroke awareness day. Sunnybrook is fortunate to be home to some of the world's leading experts in the detection, prevention and management of stroke including rehabilitation of patients.

In the past few years, researchers and clinicians at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre have pioneered:

* Stroke prevention through its specialized Regional Stroke Prevention Clinic, one of the busiest in the country. Providing much-needed clinical services both locally and regionally, the clinic sees stroke inpatients at three-month follow up, regional referrals, and patients who are urgent referrals from the Emergency room who have experienced a transient ischemic attack (TIA) or "mini-stroke", which is a warning flag for an impending stroke.

* Sunnybrook has one of the first fully accredited cerebrovascular laboratories in Canada and one of the first ten centres in North America where transcranial (head) Doppler is used. Doppler testing is used to evaluate both the head (transcranial) and the neck (carotid) arteries to identify the risk of stroke. Most recently the Stroke Team has started using transcranial Doppler in the Emergency Room to provide real time monitoring of a patient's artery during the critical window of a stroke's acute phase.

* Sunnybrook is a leading institution in the Toronto-wide acute stroke strategy that began in 2005. Sunnybrook's Stroke Team supported 46 per cent of the city-wide ambulance activation volumes in the first eight months, providing acute care to patients with remarkable results. A portion of these patients who arrived within less than three hours of experiencing a stroke received a potentially lifesaving medication called tPA, a breakthrough drug that can at times reverse much of the damage caused to the brain from a stroke.

* The Regional Stroke Rehabilitation Team at Sunnybrook excels in the management of complex cases of stroke and neurodegenerative disorders and community re-engagement. The team combines various assistive technologies and best practices expertise that they share with other healthcare facilities through education. The team has championed best practices knowledge and skills across the rehab and long term care community by providing targeted stroke education sessions for care providers from the region's long-term care community partner sectors.

* Sunnybrook shares its acute stroke expertise throughout the province providing acute stroke Telestroke support for the Central East Ontario Region as well as several northern Ontario centres by regional neurologists. Sunnybrook supports Organized "Acute Stroke Unit" care at North York General Hospital and The Scarborough Hospital. Sunnybrook has also undertaken a Smoking Cessation Project and Lifestyle Management Program in support of broadening regional prevention.

* As a leading academic health sciences centre, Sunnybrook's Regional Stroke Centre is now training neurology fellows from around the world with specialized expertise in stroke care.

* Sunnybrook plays a large role in its partnership in the Heart & Stroke Foundation of Ontario's Centre for Stroke Recovery, a unique private-public funding partnership supporting a virtual centre with sites in Ottawa, at Baycrest and Sunnybrook devoted to optimizing recovery after stroke.

As the world recognizes stroke awareness day, neurologists at Sunnybrook's Regional Stroke Centre remind Ontarians that prevention and awareness can make a world of difference. "Stroke is a leading cause of death and it's incidence is growing quite dramatically, but there is much that can be done to prevent a stroke from happening and also to treat and rehabilitate in a timely way," says Dr. Sandra Black, internationally-renowned stroke researcher and neurologist at Sunnybrook. "Most of the patient cases we see in Clinic are strokes that could have been prevented," adds Dr. Demetrios Sahlas, neurologist and Director of the Stroke Prevention Clinic at Sunnybrook. "Sometimes it can be as simple as knowing the causes and symptoms of stroke - recognizing some of the risk factors and the signs of a stroke can make a huge difference to what could otherwise be devastating outcomes."

"At Sunnybrook, stroke care benefits from a teamwork approach involving internal medicine specialists, neurologists, neuroradiologists, emergency department and intensive care unit staff, neurosurgeons, vascular surgeons, nurses, physical and occupational therapists, speech-language pathologists, dieticians, social workers, rehabilitation specialists, scientists, and administrative staff," says Dr. David Gladstone, neurologist and Director of Inpatient Stroke Services. "On World Stroke Day, we should recognize the hard work and dedication of our staff on the frontlines who are committed to improving stroke care, and we especially pay tribute to the hundreds of patients and families we see each year whose lives have been touched by stroke."

On October 26, World Stroke Day will be officially declared as a formal date for the entire world to recognize that stroke is a preventable and treatable catastrophe.

/For further information: IN: HEALTH

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