Ready to treat stroke patients

By Jon-Paul Croom, president of WellStar North Fulton Hospital

May is Stroke Awareness Month. Each year 795,000 people in the U.S. suffer a stroke. That is about the same number as heart attacks. Like a heart attack, a stroke results from sudden decreased oxygenated blood flow to the brain instead of the heart.

There are two main types of strokes: ischemic and hemorrhagic. An ischemic stroke occurs when a blockage limits blood to the brain. Hemorrhagic strokes occur when a blood vessel ruptures and pours blood into the brain.
Many times strokes do not kill, they debilitate. As the brain is starved for oxygen, many cells die resulting in a victim’s loss of speech function, mobility, and memory. This often leads to extended therapy and nursing care.

The good news is that you can not only limit your risk with proper exercise and diet, but also stop a stroke if you receive treatment immediately. As a Certified Primary Stroke Center, at WellStar North Fulton Hospital we meet standards that support better outcomes for stroke care, with dedicated professionals specially trained to treat patients with strokes.
Here, in Georgia, we are in the middle of what is called the Stroke Belt. This means you have about a 30% higher chance of mortality than the rest of the nation. Smoking, high blood pressure, sodium intake, and family history are some of the primary reasons for our higher risk.

So, what about those of us who roll the dice and end up with a stroke? First, call 9-1-1 immediately. First Responders are trained to recognize a stroke and can convey critical information remotely to the nearest certified stroke center. Upon arrival to the emergency room, you may receive TPA (Tissue Plasminogen Activator), a protein used to break down blood clots.

According to the American Stroke Association, if you receive TPA within 90 minutes of symptom onset, you are three times more likely to recover with little or no disability. At WellStar North Fulton Hospital we are proud to achieve the American Heart Association Target Stroke Elite Plus award for meeting the ED door to thrombolytic time of less than 60 minutes at 75% and less than 45 min at 56% of Ischemic stroke patients who are eligible for a clot buster. The acronym F.A.S.T. is used to describe the first symptoms of a stroke:
F – Face Drooping
A – Arm Weakness
S – Speech Difficulty
T – Time to call 9-1-1!

So, once you recognize the problem, the clock starts. You have a very limited time to receive treatment. Every minute you delay decreases your chances of a positive outcome.
Please celebrate Stroke Awareness Month by sharing this information with your friends and loved ones. You may also find more detail and opportunities to become active at StrokeAssociation.org.