Health & Medicine

Stroke care in SLO County just got a big boost thanks to upgrade at Sierra Vista

Sierra Vista Regional Medical Center in San Luis Obispo has added a team of specialists to provide advanced stroke care.
Sierra Vista Regional Medical Center in San Luis Obispo has added a team of specialists to provide advanced stroke care. jjohnston@thetribunenews.com

Stroke victims in San Luis Obispo County have a better chance at survival thanks to a new team of specialists at Sierra Vista Regional Medical Center who can provide advanced care without airlifting patients out of the county.

The San Luis Obispo hospital announced that it now has a separate suite staffed around the clock by a specialized group of three fellowship-trained neurologists.

Those physicians are trained to treat strokes in emergency situations, eliminating the need for patients to be flown or sent by ambulance to larger hospitals in places like Fresno.

"When minutes count, having an advanced stroke center with the technology and capability to care for patients can make all the difference," said Krista Deans, Sierra Vista's communications manager, in a statement.

All four county hospitals can treat stroke patients, but Sierra Vista is the only one with advanced therapy to undertake an endovascular treatment called mechanical thrombectomy, Deans said.

Endovascular treatment can help to minimize brain damage.

The treatment allows physicians to directly remove blood clots more quickly and effectively than the previously used method called tPA, which dissolves the clot and improves blood flow to the part of the brain deprived of oxygen.

"With mechanical thrombectomy, trained physicians are able to thread a catheter through an artery in the groin up to the blocked artery in the brain and remove any large blood clots with a stent retriever," hospital officials said in a statement. "Both tPA and mechanical thrombectomy need to occur within a few hours in order to be effective and improve chances for stroke survival and recovery."

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