I am sure that you have heard this carefree little camp song:

Row, row, row your boat

Gently down the stream

Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily

Life is just a dream

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

Flow, flow, flow your blood

Gently like a stream

If a clot causes the blood to stop

Get fast as you can to a clot-busting team

In other words, if you are experiencing symptoms of an early heart attack or stroke, be sure to go 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 SUNY Downstate Medical Center in Brooklyn, this team is available and waiting to serve you.

When an organ such as the heart or brain is deprived of an 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; in the brain, it’s a stroke.

Over the years, scientists have developed methods to dissolve a newly formed clot. The two clot busters currently being used are known as tissue plasminogen activator (TPA) and streptokinase (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 as well.

When symptoms occur, it is no time for you to lie down and wait until you feel better. If you do, it may be too late to be able to use these clot-busting medications.

Early signs of a heart attack include 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 vomiting, lightheadedness and unexplained overwhelming fatigue.

Early signs of a stroke include visual disturbance such as loss of visual fields with blurring, numbness of arms or legs with weakness, difficulty swallowing, slurred speech, dizziness, fainting or loss of consciousness.

In closing, I would suggest that you become aware of the medical institutions in your neighborhood that offer 24-hour clot-busting teams to ensure the least damage to your brain or heart if it is being deprived of its blood supply due to a clot.