Baptist Health Paducah has the only certified stroke program in Kentucky west of Owensboro. It is certified by The Joint Commission as a primary stroke center and recently received the Gold Plus Quality Achievement Award for stroke treatment from the American Heart and American Stroke associations.
Plus, Baptist Health has neuroscience specialists – neurosurgeons and neurologists – working together in the diagnosis and treatment for disease and disorders involving the nervous system.
Why is stroke education important?
Stroke is one of the nation’s leading killers and the leading cause of serious, long-term disability. Baptist focuses on public education, so people of all ages know they should call 9-1-1 immediately if they see anyone experiencing signs of a stroke. Time saved is brain saved, so if they seek immediate treatment, the effects of stroke may be reduced or even reversed.
A stroke occurs when blood flow is interrupted in the brain, either from a blood clot or bleeding into the brain. Each minute oxygen and nutrients are blocked by a stroke, 1.9 million brain cells die – the reason quick intervention to restore blood flow is crucial.
I’ve had the joy of watching stroke patients recover and return to their active lives because they acted quickly. They knew the symptoms and got to the Emergency department in time to be treated with the clot-dissolving drug tPA (tissue plasminogen activator), which can reduce long-term disability if given within three hours after a stroke starts.
If treated in time, tPA treatment can improve the likelihood that their damage will be less severe and sometimes can be returned back to their baseline state. Occasionally, we have even seen patients experience nearly-immediate reversal of speech loss and paralysis after being treated with tPA. While this is a rare occurrence, it can and does occur.
Risk factors include high blood pressure, smoking, family history, high cholesterol, obesity and lack of exercise.
To determine if your symptoms indicate a stroke, keep F.A.S.T. in mind:
F=Face Ask the person to smile. Does one side of the face droop?
A=Arm Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm drift downward?
S=Speech Ask the person to repeat a simple phrase. Is the speech slurred or strange?
T=Time If you observe any of these signs, phone 9-1-1 because ambulance staff can expedite treatment.
If you have any questions about stroke symptoms, talk to a Baptist nurse any time at the Chest Pain & Stroke Hotline: 1.800.575.1911. A stroke support group meets from 3 to 4:30 p.m. the first Monday of each month in the Baptist Heart Center conference room. Phone Mary Legge, RN, at 270.575.2880 for more information or to register.
– Neurologist Joseph Ashburn, MD
Medical director of Baptist Health Paducah stroke center