Stroke is one of the most prevalent health problems in the United States–causing approximately 130,000 deaths each year. Despite this medical event’s prevalence, only 38% of respondents in one major survey “were aware of all the major symptoms and knew to call 9-1-1 when someone was having a stroke,” reports the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
When a stroke occurs, immediate medical care is essential. Every minute counts; getting treatment as quickly as possible could be the difference between life and death. At Glenwood Regional Medical Center, providers offer urgent stroke care to patients in West Monroe and beyond. Our stroke telemedicine program allows the staff and physicians at Glenwood to connect patients directly to specialized vascular neurologists at Ochsner Clinic Foundation in New Orleans in a matter of seconds.
Telemedicine Care: Connecting Patients & Specialists Instantly
In many small communities like West Monroe, access to highly specialized vascular neurologists may not be possible. Glenwood Regional Medical Center is solving this problem through a unique partnership with Ochsner Clinic Foundation’s Stroke Telemedicine Program. Telemedicine allows emergency department physicians at Glenwood to immediately consult with Ochsner vascular neurologists 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. With the simple push of a button and a web browser, a vascular neurologist in New Orleans can begin the process of evaluating, diagnosing, and treating stroke victims in West Monroe.
Not only does the Telemedicine program allow Glenwood patients to receive immediate care, but it also reduces the costs associated with travel and eliminates the inconvenience of time spent away from work and family.
When a patient comes into the emergency department at Glenwood with the symptoms of an acute ischemic stroke, a computer with an advanced webcam will be brought to the bedside where the clinical team will connect with a vascular neurologist on call at Ochsner. The neurologist, patient and clinical team at Glenwood can see and speak to each other throughout the consult. The physician will examine the patient and review the CAT scan of the patient’s head, providing guidance on advanced treatments within minutes.
In many cases, Telestroke consultation will allow patients to stay at Glenwood. In more complicated cases the patient may need to be transferred to Ochsner or another facility for specialized treatment. However, Telestroke is still beneficial in these cases because the neurologist will have already met and started treating the patient.
Ischemic stroke occurs when a blockage in a blood vessel stops or severely inhibits the flow of blood to the brain, depriving the surrounding brain tissue of oxygen. Without adequate oxygen, brain cells in the immediate area begin to die. The death of brain cells may cause permanent brain damage or disability, such as loss of motor skills and cognitive function. If the stroke is not treated quickly enough–or if the blockage is massive–then death may occur. Because two million brain cells die per minute during a stroke, immediate medical attention is absolutely necessary.
Are You At Risk for Stroke?
Some stroke risk factors can’t be changed. These include age, family history, race, sex, and medical history.
- Age: Risk for stroke doubles for each decade after age 55.
- Family History: You may be at increased risk if you have a parent, grandparent, or sibling who has had a stroke.
- Race: African-Americans are at a higher risk for death from stroke (compared to Caucasians), party due to higher risks of diabetes, hypertension and obesity.
- Sex: Women have more strokes than men. Use of oral contraceptives and other hormonal therapies may increase a woman’s risk.
- Medical History: if you have had a heart attack, stroke or “warning stroke” before, then you are at an increased risk.
Other risk factors may be managed. These include:
- Atrial fibrillation
- Carotid artery disease (or other forms of plaque buildup in arterial walls)
- Cigarette smoking
- Diabetes mellitus (all types)
- Heart disease
- High blood cholesterol
- High blood pressure
- Obesity and/or physical inactivity
- Peripheral artery disease (PAD)
- Poor diet
- Sickle cell anemia
What Are the Warning Signs of Stroke?
Know the signs and symptoms of stroke. They might save your life or the life of a loved one. Signs of stroke can include:
- Sudden numbness or weakness in the face, arm or leg; numbness is often localized to just one side of the body.
- A sudden sense of confusion is common in stroke victims. The victim may have difficulty speaking or understanding what is being said.
- Sudden difficulty seeing (with one or both eyes).
- Sudden severe headache with no clear cause.
- Sudden trouble walking, which may include dizziness, loss of balance, or lack of coordination.
What To Do in the Event of a Stroke
If you suspect someone is having a stroke, it is critical to act fast. There is a three-hour window following the first symptoms during which stroke victims may be eligible for the most effective treatments. After that three-hour window, the patient may not be eligible for those first-line therapies. Act F.A.S.T. if you think someone is having a stroke:
- F–Face: Ask the person to smile. Does one side of the face droop?
- A–Arms: Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm drift downward?
- S–Speech: Ask the person to repeat a simple phrase. Is their speech slurred or strange?
- T–Time: If you notice any of these three signs, call 9-1-1 immediately.
In the event of a stroke, call an ambulance so that first-responders can begin potentially lifesaving treatment on the way to Glenwood Regional Medical Center. Do not attempt to drive yourself or a stroke victim to the hospital.
For more information about stroke care and other services at Glenwood Regional Medical Center, please call 1-877-726-WELL.