Conemaugh Mason Medical Center Wants to Help Prevent Strokes

Millions of brain cells die each minute a stroke goes untreated.  Stroke is the third leading cause of death for women each year (in comparison, stroke is the fifth leading cause of death for men). Because in general women live longer than men, stroke will have a more negative impact on their lives…but, there’s new hope, according to Conemaugh Nason Medical Center.  In early 2017, Conemaugh Nason and Conemaugh Memorial partnered to provide Telestroke services.  Telestroke is a mobile telecommunications system that allows for quicker communication and connection from physicians to patients when a stroke alert is activated in the emergency room.  The technology includes a secure, two-way audio/visual link between neurologists at Conemaugh Memorial and emergency room physicians and nurses caring for stroke patients at Conemaugh Nason.  Like a heart attack, a stroke requires immediate medical attention.  The sooner the patient gets help, the better their chances of surviving.  Conemaugh Nason Medical Center has also earned Advanced Disease-Specific Care Certification as an Acute Stroke Ready Hospital from the Joint Commission and Nason was recently recognized by the American College of Cardiology with Chest Pain Center Accreditation.

 “In the past, doctors couldn’t do much to help stroke victims. That’s not true today. Now stroke doesn’t have to lead to disability or death. It is crucial to recognize a stroke and get to the hospital immediately.  Getting help quickly is key,” says Dr. John Baker, Emergency Room physician at Nason.  “Immediate treatment may save a life and minimize the long-term effects of the stroke.”

The clot-dissolving drug tPA (tissue plasminogen activator) can reduce long-term disability if it’s given within three hours after an ischemic stroke starts. (Ischemic strokes are caused by clots and are by far the most common type of stroke.)

Unfortunately, tPA isn’t used as often as it could be because many people don’t seek care quickly. Don’t you make that mistake. If you or someone near you has the warning signs of a stroke, call 9-1-1 immediately.

“We want people to know that stroke is a medical emergency. Everyone should know these warning signs of stroke and teach them to others because every second counts,” Michael Stayduhar, RN, CCCC, Conemaugh Nason’s stroke liaison and cardiovascular care coordinator said.  Symptoms may include any or all of these:

  • Sudden numbness or weakness of the face, arm or leg, especially on one side of the body
  • Sudden confusion, trouble speaking or understanding
  • Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes
  • Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination
  • Sudden, severe headache with no known cause

“If someone experiences these symptoms or is with someone else who does, they should call 9-1-1 immediately.  Time lost is brain lost!”

Conemaugh Nason also wants people to know that there are ways people can lower their risk for stroke.

According to Dr. Baker, “You can reduce your chance of having a stroke by learning the risk factors and working with your doctor to reduce your risk. You can change most of the conditions below through diet and exercise. Others may need medication. Your best defense is knowledge. Talk to your doctor to find out if you have any of these health risks. Then work together to develop a plan that’s right for you.”

Risk factors include:

  • High blood pressure
  • Smoking
  • Diabetes
  • Carotid or other artery disease
  • Atrial fibrillation
  • Transient ischemic attacks (TIAs or “mini strokes”)
  • Certain blood disorders
  • High blood cholesterol
  • Physical inactivity and obesity
  • Excessive alcohol
  • Illegal drug use
  • Taking birth control pills
  • Using Hormone Replacement Therapy
  • Suffering from migraine headaches with aura
  • Each year stroke kills twice as many women as breast cancer.  However, this fact is widely unknown among the general public.  Women are also less knowledgeable about the risk factors and don’t perceive themselves at risk for stroke.
  • Women who experience migraines with aura and smoke are advised to stop smoking immediately.
  • Women who are pregnant should monitor their blood pressure during and after pregnancy to lower the risk of stroke.
  • Women over 75 should be screened for Atrial Fibrillation.
  • Women should be screened for high blood pressure prior to starting a birth control regimen.
  • Women with concerns about high blood pressure or stroke should consult a doctor.

At Conemaugh Nason Medical Center, patients will find a dedicated, stroke focused program in our Emergency Room.  All ER staff members are trained in stroke care and are able to perform rapid diagnostic and laboratory testing and administer the intravenous tPA clot-busting medication that is needed as quickly as possible in case of a stroke, as well as access Telestroke technology.  For more information on Conemaugh Nason Medical Center, please visit us on the web at conemaugh.org/Nason or check us out on Facebook.

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