STN Staff 

Margeaux Long is the Stroke Program Coordinator for Trinity Health Livingston, Trinity Health Ann Arbor and Chelsea Hospital. Hospitals across Michigan have seen an increase in patients being transported by private vehicle to the hospital after suffering a stroke. Long discusses why this is a significant health detriment and highlights why taking an ambulance to the hospital is the best choice. 

STN: What is a stroke, and what are some risk factors people should know about? 

Dr. Long: A stroke is when a vessel that carries oxygen and nutrients to the brain is blocked or bursts. Brain cells immediately begin to die when this happens, which can cause serious disabilities such as the inability to speak, swallow, or move limbs. Some of the common risk factors include having high blood sugar, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, being previously diagnosed with atrial fibrillation – also known as AFIB – using tobacco or vapes, and having a family history. Stroke is the No. 5 leading cause of death and the No. 1 cause of disability in the United States, so it’s important to be aware of these factors. 

 STN: Trinity Health Michigan hospitals have seen a recent influx of stroke patients driving themselves to receive treatment. Why is this a problem? 

Dr. Long: Patients are putting themselves at a significantly higher risk for greater complications following a stroke if they are driving themselves to the hospital, and they are also not guaranteeing themselves the best care as soon as they may think, even if they live in a rural area where a hospital may not be close by. Calling 911 ensures an EMS transports you to the most appropriate facility based on the symptoms you have. For example, not all hospitals perform thrombectomies – which is a clot removal procedure – so if you need that and drive yourself to a hospital that doesn’t perform that, you are further delaying the care you desperately need. It’s hard to imagine, but 1.9 million neurons are lost per minute during a stroke. Your brain loses as many neurons as it does in 3.6 years of aging for each hour you aren’t being treated. I can’t say it enough – it is vital to call 911 and ensure emergency  professionals take you to the best hospital for your specific situation. 

 STN: Why should stroke patients choose a Trinity Health hospital for their care? 

Dr. Long: Most of our hospitals in the state of Michigan are certified stroke centers of excellence, which really goes to show we have lofty standards when it comes to caring for our stroke patients, as well as the resources needed to provide high-quality care. A stroke affects everybody – from the patients directly being impacted to their family members who have to care for them post-discharge, and everyone in between. At Trinity Health Michigan, we take pride in catering to everyone involved and ensuring the best long-term plan for each of our patients.  

STN: Is there anything else you’d like people to know? 

Dr. Long: Our hospitals have everything a patient needs in the event of a stroke, from the beginning of care all the way to the end. We provide access to support groups, both virtual and in-person, and many of our hospitals – including Trinity Health Ann Arbor and Chelsea Hospital – have inpatient rehabilitation programs. So remember, if you or a loved one suffer a stroke and are seeking medical attention, please call 911 right away and your care will be triaged to the most appropriate hospital for the specific type of care needed. 

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