Stroke care happens to be very near and dear to my heart and was the initial reason that I sought a career in EMS. Watching a person have a stroke or CVA (cerebral vascular accident), has to be one of the worst experiences. These patient's are very likely going to live a very difficult life after having a stroke. Unfortunately, there is very little that we
can do in the prehospital environment for these patients.
- Facial droop
- Arm drift
- Slurred speech
Below is from Critical Care Medicine, published in 2009.
Hypothermia is considered nature's "gold standard" for neuroprotection, and its efficacy for improving outcome in patients with hypoxic-ischemic brain injury as a result of cardiac arrest is well-established. Hypothermia reduces brain edema and intracranial pressure in patients with traumatic brain injury. By contrast, only a few small pilot studies have evaluated hypothermia as a treatment for acute ischemic stroke, and no controlled trials of hypothermia for hemorrhagic stroke have been performed. Logistic challenges present an important barrier to the widespread application of hypothermia for stroke, most importantly the need for high-quality critical care to start immediately in the emergency department. Rapid induction of hypothermia within 3 to 6 hrs of onset has been hampered by slow cooling rates, but is feasible. Delayed cooling for the treatment of cytotoxic brain edema does not provide definitive or lasting treatment for intracranial mass effect, and should not be used as an alternative to hemicraniectomy. Sustained fever control is feasible in patients with intracerebral and subarachnoid hemorrhage, but has yet to be tested in a phase III study. Important observations from studies investigating the use of hypothermia for stroke to date include the necessity for proactive antishivering therapy for successful cooling, the importance of slow controlled rewarming to avoid rebound brain edema, and the high risk for infectious and cardiovascular complications in this patient population. More research is clearly needed to bring us closer to the successful application of hypothermia in the treatment for stroke.