During a stroke, your brain loses 1.9 million neurons a minute. Rapid intervention is the best chance for survival.
Stroke is the most common cause of long-term disability in the U.S. When a stroke occurs, it’s vital to recognize the symptoms quickly and access medical attention at a facility that can provide top-quality stroke care.
“Acute care in an emergency department is the best way to provide patients immediate treatment,” said David Blake, MD, medical director of the stroke program at Saint Joseph Hospital, part of KentuckyOne Health. “Prompt treatment can potentially restore blood flow and improve the outcome for stroke patients.”
In December 2015, Saint Joseph Hospital received The Joint Commission certification as an advanced primary stroke center. Support begins with Saint Joseph Hospital’s emergency medical services team and continues with intervention, home health and rehabilitation.
In addition to an acute stroke team that responds to patients’ bedsides if they experience stroke symptoms, the hospital also provides rapid assessment for the use of clot-busting medication. The stroke response team includes specially trained nurses who provide comprehensive education for both patients and families. Providers know that saving lives begins well before the first symptoms appear; it begins with controlling risks.
“Approximately 80 percent of strokes can be prevented by addressing the medical and lifestyle risk factors that contribute to stroke,” Dr. Blake said. “Establishing a good relationship with a primary care doctor or nurse practitioner can help patients make proactive decisions and prevent strokes.”
Medical providers regularly monitor patients for stroke risk factors and help determine how to reduce the likelihood of stroke.
Lifestyle risk factors for stroke include:
- Smoking cigarettes
- Being overweight
- Not exercising regularly
Medical risk factors for stroke include having poorly managed conditions such as high blood pressure, diabetes and elevated cholesterol, which can be positively affected by lifestyle modifications.
“Stroke providers such as myself are excited to see people in our region take action to control risk factors,” Dr. Blake said. “Patients who do so succeed at improving their well-being and longevity.”
F.A.S.T. is an easy way to remember the sudden signs of a stroke
- Facial Drooping — Ask the individual to smile. Is one side of his or her face drooping downward?
- Arms — Next, ask him or her to raise both arms and note whether one drifts downward.
- Slurred or Strange Speech — Finally, ask the person to repeat a simple sentence. Is it correct? Is his or her speech difficult to understand?
- Time — If someone has these symptoms, call 911 immediately. Don’t put off medical attention, even if the symptoms disappear.
This article originally appeared in the 2017 Spring edition of One Health magazine. For more stories like this one, subscribe to One Health today.