Charlie Daniels Suffers Mild Stroke

Singer and fiddler extraordinaire Charlie Daniels has suffered a mild stroke. The 73 year old, probably best known for his song The Devil Went Down to Georgia was snowmobiling in Colorado at the time of the stroke. He was first treated at a hospital in Durango, CO before being airlifted to Swedish Medical Center in Denver. He was released from the hospital on Sunday. According to his website, Daniels and his band, The Charlie Daniels Band, have no intention of canceling any concerts.

To see a video of Charlie Daniels playing The Devil Went Down to Georgia, click here.

We have covered the topic of  the warning signs of stroke in articles about Garrison Keillor, and Walter Cronkite, so I thought we would talk a little about the treatment of stroke and, specifically,the use of tPA.

What is tPA?

Tissue plasminogen activator (tPA) is a thrombolytic agent (clot-busting drug). It’s approved for use in certain patients having a heart attack or stroke. The drug can dissolve blood clots, which cause most heart attacks and strokes.

How does tPA help people having a stroke?

In 1996 the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the use of tPA to treat ischemic stroke. This kind of stroke is caused by blood clots that block blood flow to the brain.

For such strokes , thrombolytics can be used to help dissolve the clot quickly but they must be given within 3 hours of the first stroke symptoms in order to limit stroke damage and disability. This makes it very important for people who think they’re having a stroke to seek help immediately. If given promptly, tPA can significantly reduce the effects of stroke and reduce permanent disability.

The decision to give the drug is based upon:

  • A brain CT scan to make sure there is no bleeding
  • A physical exam that shows a significant stroke
  • The patient’s general medical history

Generally, thrombolytics will not be given if the patient has:

  • A recent head injury
  • Bleeding problems
  • Bleeding ulcers
  • Pregnancy
  • Surgery
  • Trauma
  • Uncontrolled high blood pressure
Mark Boguski, M.D., Ph.D. is on the faculty of Harvard Medical School and is a member of the Society for Participatory Medicine, "a movement in which networked patients shift from being mere passengers to responsible drivers of their health" and in which professional health care providers encourage "empowered patients" and value them as full partners in managing their health and wellness.

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