DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – Some doctors across North Texas are starting to see an alarming trend. Stroke patients are getting much younger, and it is almost always tied to high blood pressure. But at Parkland Hospital in Dallas, doctors are using a relatively new procedure to help assist in critical care and treatment, when seconds count.
The procedure is called the Penumbra System. It essentially allows doctors to use a small catheter which can suck a blockage out of the brain. However, despite this critical care procedure, doctors maintain that, when it comes to strokes, preventative measures are key.
Freddie Dews never saw his stroke coming. “It just happened so suddenly. It’s like, one day, I’m out having a good time. The next, I have this excruciating headache,” said the 37-year-old stroke survivor. “They told me I had a bleed in my brain, and that if I went to sleep, then they wouldn’t know if I would wake up.”
That happened one year ago. Dews said that he ignored the early symptoms – horrendous headaches for two consecutive weeks, numbness in his arm and high blood pressure. But in that painful mistake, Dews is not alone.
“We do see a growing number of incidents in a younger population,” said Dr. Robin Novakovic, neurology specialist at Parkland Hospital. She added that timing is critical when treating stroke victims like Dews. “If patients arrive after the window, there’s a higher risk of complications.”
Doctors at Parkland Hospital utilize a team approach when treating stroke patients. But now, assisting the effort is the Penumbra System, used on those patients who have developed clots in the brain. “We can go into the clot and disrupt the clot, suck them out of the artery, and try to preserve the blood vessel.”
It is this kind of therapy that helped Dews live to see another year, and hopefully many more to come. Dews now offers this advice for those who are worried about suffering a stroke. “Go get checked! You might not think there’s nothing wrong, but it could be serious,” he said. “Go get checked!”
Additional risk factors contributing to strokes include obesity, diabetes and high cholesterol – all of which are being seen in younger adults, doctors said.