September26, 2012 Edition

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LMH offers new hope for stroke victims

John Bland
Publisher

As with many of you, I come from a family with a history of strokes. That's the reason I see the great benefit of a new service being offered for stroke victims at Lawrence Memorial Hospital.

Beginning Oct. 1, our hospital is expected to be online with the AR SAVES network at UAMS. Through two-way video equipment, stroke victims who come to our hospital emergency department will be connected live to a vascular neurologist. This specialist will assess the patient, who if found to be a candidate, can be administered a clot-busting drug called t-PA.

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With each minute that passes after a stroke, the victim loses brain cells that die due to the lack of blood flow to the affected part of the brain. That's why it is so important to treat the condition as soon as possible. Doctors state that there is a three-hour window after the stroke when the clot-busting drug is most effective. Within minutes of arriving at the hospital, the equipment can be up and running.

Officials with AR SAVES (Stroke Assistance through Virtual Emergency Support) state that it is vital that stroke victims, and those around them, know the sudden signs of a stroke and act immediately by calling 911 to get to the hospital.

Rick Washam of the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences and AR SAVES showed me video testimonies of several stroke victims around the state who have benefited from AR SAVES. Ranging in age from 25 to those in their early 90s, the stroke victims made full recoveries, thanks to getting immediate care.

The message I learned from this is to act fast if you or your loved ones show sudden signs of a stroke, and for the best chance of recovery, go to our local hospital for immediate care. Washam explained that 911 patients, who arrive at hospitals via an ambulance, usually get faster care at an emergency department.

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Knowing that there is hope for stroke patients takes some of the fear and dread out of the illness. Of course, a high percentage of strokes are preventable by reducing such factors as high blood pressure, heart disease, smoking, diabetes and high cholesterol, but that is subject for another column.

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