Your Healthy Family: "BE FAST" when stroke symptoms hit - KOAA.com | Continuous News | Colorado Springs and Pueblo

Your Healthy Family: "BE FAST" when stroke symptoms hit

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In this Your Healthy Family we’re talking about the new treatment guidelines that were issued by the American Heart Association and the American Stroke Association that are changing the landscape of stroke treatment.

Under the new guidelines more people who've had an ischemic stroke - a blockage in an artery in the brain - could be eligible for life-saving clot removal procedures.  Those procedures require an Interventional Neuroradiologist like Dr. Daniel Huddle, or an Endovascular Neurosurgeon, like Dr. Shaye Moskowitz.  Both are on the neuro team at UCHealth Memorial and they form a kind of dynamic duo.

I had a chance to sit down with both of them to find out more about how this tandem works together.

It’s kind of like “Batman and Robin, or Frick and Frack, whatever you want to call it, it works” says Dr. Huddle.  Dr. Moskowitz adds, “Some days we both wear tights.”  

When most people come across a complicated problem in life, a common phrase is 'it's not brain surgery'.  These brain surgeons look at their complex jobs in a similar way.  

Dr. Moskowitz chimes, “For us it's not rocket science,  I plumb people's heads that's what I do.”  Dr. Huddle adds, “I'm just a plumber right?  We're the brain plumbers.  If your pipes are leaking we stop the leak, if they are clogged we unclog them.”  

Having these two doctors on staff is like having one brain plumber who specializes with a roto rooter, or catheters, and another who specializes at cutting into walls or floors to make repairs when surgery is needed.

Dr. Moskowitz explains, “I've got the surgical edge as it were but by the same token Dan has an interpretation or a sense for how you interpret the imaging. I can't read images in the same way, so he has an appreciation for imaging in a way that I have an appreciation for physical anatomy.  We each come technically with this venn diagram, with a lot of overlap but we each have a unique approach at the same thing."

Together Dr. Moskowitz and Dr. Huddle, bring upgraded capabilities to treat stroke or aneurysm at UCHealth Memorial because of their close working relationship in a world where large egos can sometimes get in the way.

Dr. Huddle explains, “The cases where patient benefit the most are the cases where the bleed is in the head.  Together we can review the studies to say ‘you know something I can probably coil this, but I think it's better that the patient actually has surgery.’  I can look to him (Dr. Moskowitz) and we can get the patient up to the O.R. and do what's right for the patient.   I think we eliminate the bias to say that because I pushed catheters, everything needs to be coiled, or historically if the neurosurgeon felt everything should be clipped, everything got clipped.  We can look at the images together and we decide what's going to be best for the patient.”

Stroke and aneurysm treatment is a pressure packed race against the clock, because as they say “Time is Brain”.   In the rush to get treatments done as safely, quickly and properly as possible Dr. Moskowitz is grateful for a second set of eyes.  “I'm very very lucky to be in a position where I can trust the person that I'm standing next to.  We've got each other's back in a situation that could otherwise be more challenging, and it's not just the technical stuff. The obvious winner is the patient, the community, the hospital - everybody.”

While the advanced capabilities Dr. Huddle and Dr. Moskowitz bring as neurointerventionalists working together is unique, it’s the many levels of stroke treatment in place at UCHealth Memorial from EMS, to the emergency department, the mobile stroke unit, the team of neurologists, the stroke neurologists, the ICU all working together that earned UCHealth Memorial designation as the only comprehensive stroke center in southern Colorado.    

Dr. Moskowitz says,  “All of those are the front line people they see the patient first, they triage them they decide is it something that can be treated with the clot busting drug (r-TPA), or is it a big enough clot or severe enough clot that we need to be called in.  Yes we are one added layer treatment options and they can't work without us and we can't work without them.  It's a team approach for sure.”

No matter how good a stroke team is unless we in the community know to "BE FAST" when stroke symptoms hit, it's hard for Dr. Moskowitz or Dr. Huddle or any members of the comprehensive stroke team at Memorial or any other health care facility to make a difference.

Dr. Moskowitz knows it’s an uphill battle to educate the community.  “What percentage of Americans can name any sign of a stroke, any sign?  Only 9 percent of Americans can name any sign of a stroke.”

Those signs of stroke that can be easily remembered as “BE FAST”. If you are having with any of these things, don't call your doctor, don't go to the ER or the hospital even if it's right around the corner, you need to call 9-1-1 right away.

B - Balance

E - Eyesight

F - Facial Drooping

A - Arm Weakness

S - Slurred Speech

T - Time to call 9-1-1

Acting fast, to quickly get paramedics to your door is the most critical element in successful stroke treatment because time is brain.  

Dave Csintyan is a Colorado Springs man who we have featured in Your Health Family.  While he didn’t know the signs of stroke before his hit, when his vision was off, and he lost control over his left arm, and then he started slurring his speech, his wife knew to call 9-1-1.  

You can see his story here: http://www.koaa.com/story/37284499/your-healthy-family-southern-co-man-survives-stroke-in-text-book-style

Dr. Moskowitz points out how these days people act quickly when they have chest pain to deal with a heart attack.  Dr. Huddle says, “The push is to have recognition that this (a stroke) is a brain attack, similar to a heart attack, people know a heart attack and if there is enough community awareness that (a stroke) is a brain attack, they can get to us quicker to let us do what we love to do.”

Dr. Moskowitz adds, “The second you hit the door (at Memorial) this is seamless, but if nobody in the community knows about signs of stroke, it doesn't really matter how good we are or are not, people don't get back to normal because in the end they never get the attention that they needed because they didn't know they needed it.  Time is brain, and everybody needs to bring their game up in that regard.”

To learn more about the comprehensive stroke treatment available at Memorial you can visit their website at


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