2010-08-13 / Top Stories

SJEH: Warning Signs Of Stroke

Dr. Kerin Hausknecht, a board-certified neurologist and leader of the Stroke Team at St. John’s Episcopal Hospital, says, “A stroke is an emergency and needs immediate treatment. Everyone should learn to recognize the warning signs of stroke so that 911 can be dialed as quickly as possible.”

Prompt use of clot busters, known as tPA, in the event of a stroke greatly reduces the risk of severe disability. An acute stroke is where a clot blocks the flow of blood to the brain. Speed is essential: the drugs must be administered within the first three hours after the attack.

The American Stroke Association reports that more than 795,000 Americans suffer from stroke every year. On average, a stroke occurs once every 40 seconds. Dr. Hausknecht lists the warning signs of stroke as: • 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.

Dr. Hausknecht says, “As a designated Stroke Center, we at St. John’s have demonstrated that the moment a patient arrives with a stroke we are able to identify and treat them within minutes with the most up-to-date medical protocols available. We will be on hand 24 hours-a-day, seven days-aweek. We are committed to helping patients recover from stroke.”

The criteria for stroke center status were developed from the Brain Attack Coalition Guidelines and are consistent with the American Stroke Association practice standards for the treatment of acute stroke patients. The Stroke Center Demonstration Project of 2003 showed that stroke centers provide significant improvement both in assessment and response times for acute stroke patients.

A stroke center designation means that the Emergency Department at St. John’s Episcopal Hospital is equipped with the appropriate diagnostic equipment and medical expertise. Ambulances are notified to bring suspected stroke patients to the nearest stroke center. In addition, the Hospital also offers an easily accessible CT scan and MRI as well as the ability to provide follow-up care including physical therapy among other medical expertise. The Hospital is committed to providing community outreach and education on the dangers of stroke.

“This designation means that St. John’s has met the State’s specific and rigorous criteria to treat victims of stroke,” said Hausknecht. “It is also a sign of the staff’s clinical excellence and the Hospital’s quality of care,” he added.

In addition to Hausknecht, St. John’s Stroke Team includes neurologists, emergency medicine clinicians, radiologists, rehabilitation medicine specialists and nurses. The team coordinates care and offers the latest training to staff and community responders.

Stroke Center designation is awarded by the State Hospital Review and Planning Council of the New York State Department of Health. It means that patients who live in the area and suffer from an acute stroke can be treated speedily, increasing chances of survival and improved outcomes.

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