(WIBW) - When you're suffering a stroke, you need treatment as soon as possible. The more quickly you do, the more options available to get blood flowing to the brain again and to minimize any damage.
But even the best care available won't help if you can't recognize the symptoms - things like a suddgen inability to speak, speech slurred, vision blurred or new dizziness.
Dr. Frisco Morse, medical director of the stroke program at Topeka's Stormont-Vail HealthCare, says, once there's a clot or interruption in blood flow to the brain, the tissue in the area of the brain supplied by that artery starts to die off.
To improve response to stroke patients, Stormont-Vail embarked on an effort to earn, and recently received, accreditation from the Joint Commission for acute stroke care. The designation recognizes the hospital's ability to recognize a stroke and the tools it has to quickly get the blood flowing again.
The response begins from the moment a person calls 9-1-1. Dr. Morse says EMTs have tests they can do in the field to know if the patient if having a stroke. The information can be relayed to medical staff in the emergency room, who can activate a stroke response team to be ready and waiting when the patient arrives. In that way, Dr. Morse says, decisions on treatment can be made more quickly.
If doctors can pinpoint the stroke began within a certain window of time, they can administer a drug known as TPA to break up the clot. If not, Stormont has doctors specially trained in a process called clot retrieval. With either method, Dr. Morse says, restoring blood flow to the brain helps people make a rapid recovery.
Stormont also set up a program using the Lifestar air ambulance to quickly transport stroke patients from smaller hospitals to get advanced treatment.
It's all part of an accreditation Stormont is proud to have earned. Dr. Morse says it represents the highest standards in medicine.
Besides Stormont's accreditation, Topeka's St. Francis Health Center gets a five-star rating from Health Grades for its treatment of stroke.
If you're confused about the symptoms of a stroke, just remember "FAST:"
Face droops to one side
Arm drifts downward
Speech becomes slurred or strange
Time to get immediate attention