Each year, May is designated as American Stroke Month. Why does stroke need its own month? Many people are already aware of stroke, and some know what signs to look for, but did you know that stroke is the leading cause of disability in the U.S. as well as the fifth leading cause of death? This month is a good opportunity to familiarize yourself with stroke so you can better protect yourself and your loved ones.
We know much more about stroke today than we did even a decade ago. In the not so distant past, very little could be done and physicians would just have to wait until the stroke passed before assessing the damage. Physical and occupational therapy could potentially help the victim regain lost function, but much of the damage was permanent, or even fatal. New technologies allow physicians to intervene much earlier and more effectively, reducing these risks significantly.
"Stroke care is evolving," North Fulton Hospital's Stroke Coordinator Edna Kennedy says. "There are so many changes right now with interventional treatment. The goal is to reduce or even prevent disability. Every minute counts. Each minute that passes without intervention, the stroke victim loses 1.9 million neurons."
Certain symptoms are immediately recognizable as a possible stroke. The acronym FAST is a useful, easy-to-remember tool when identifying these symptoms. The first indicator is Face drooping, followed by Arm weakness and Speech difficulty. Once these symptoms begin to appear, it's Time to call 911. These are the most common indicators, however they are not the only ways in which a stroke is present. Other potential symptoms include sudden headache, loss of coordination, dizziness, trouble seeing and numbness in isolated parts of the body.
Should you experience any of these symptoms or see anyone else exhibiting these symptoms, it is imperative that you call 911 as quickly as possible. Once the first responders arrive, they will be able to swiftly transport the patient to the nearest certified primary stroke center, such as the one at North Fulton Hospital.
As Stroke Coordinator, Kennedy spends her days ensuring that the North Fulton primary stroke center exceeds the necessary requirements to maintain its certification, as well as educating the hospital staff and community about recent changes and advancements in stroke care.
"I make sure evidence based practices are being implemented with our patients," Kennedy explains. "The care should align with the national standards of care. Also, we make sure all of those measures are taken in the clinical area and monitor them to provide data to the American Stroke Association, which becomes national data."
Though she has been a registered nurse for more than 35 years, Kennedy confesses that her passion lies in education, making this an ideal position for her. "I provide education through the continuum of care. We provide community education, we educate about early recognition of signs and symptoms and timely activation of the emergency response system. I provide initial and ongoing education to the staff and physicians to make sure those measures are implemented bedside."
Thanks to efforts such as these, North Fulton's Primary Stroke Care Center is on the cutting edge of stroke care. Mortality and disability rates have taken a nosedive in this area, dropping stroke from the fourth leading cause of death to the fifth.
"Care has definitely changed for the better," Kennedy says proudly. "We're really making headway."
Sponsored by: North Fulton Pulmonary Specialists | 2500 Hospital Boulevard, Ste 340 | Roswell, GA 30076 | Phone: (770) 740-1753 | www.northfultonpulmonaryspecialists.com