Clot busters save organs

| August 28, 2013

HOUSE CALLS by Dr. Gerald Deas

I am sure that you have heard and sung this carefree little camp song that went “Row, Row, Row your boat….”

I would like to borrow that tune and add my words to it:

Flow, Flow, Flow your blood…flowing gently like a stream…If a clot forms causing the blood to stop…get fast as you can to a “Blot, Clot Busting Team.” 

In other words, make sure that if you are experiencing symptoms of an early heart attack or stroke, that you are able to get to a hospital where there is a clot busting team on staff 24 hours a day. It is extremely important that a clot be busted within a three hour window. At Downstate Medical Center in Brooklyn, this team is available and waiting to serve you.

When any organ such as the heart or brain is deprived of its oxygenated blood supply due to a clot, the functioning cells of that organ die quickly. When the heart is involved, it is referred to as a heart attack and with the brain, a stroke.

Over the years, scientists have developed new methods in being able to dissolve a newly formed clot. The two clot busters presently being used are known as TPA (Tissue Plasminogen Activator) and Streptokinase, or SK. These two agents must be given within three hours of a heart attack or as soon as a heart attack is suspected. This procedure is now being used for early stroke victims. When symptoms occur it is no time for you to lie down and wait until you feel better. It may be too late to be able to use these clot busting medications.

Early signs of a heart attack is as follows:

• Chest discomfort;

• Back discomfort;

• Chest pain radiating to the left elbow and arm;

• Shortness of breath;

• An urge to move the bowels;

• Excess sweating.

• Nausea and often vomiting;

• Light headedness, and

• Unexplained, overwhelming fatigue.

Early signs of a stroke:

• Visual disturbance such as loss of visual fields with blurring;

• Numbness of arms or legs with weakness;

• Inability to swallow;

• Slurred speech;

• Difficulty swallowing;

• Head spinning with dizziness and,

• Fainting or loss of consciousness.

In closing, I would suggest that you become aware of the medical institutions in your neighborhood that offers 24 hour clot busting teams to ensure the least damage to your brain or heart that has been deprived of its blood supply due to an early clot.

For great health tips and access to an online community of physicians and other healthcare professionals, visit


This article originally appeared in the Aug. 28 print edition.

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Category: Health

About the Author ()

Gerald W. Deas, MD, MPH, MA is a physician, poet, patient advocate, playwright, media personality, political activist and public health crusader. Read his full bio at

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