CEO, Physicians Regional Healthcare System
If you—or a loved one—are one of nearly 800,000 Americans who will suffer a stroke this year, it’s important to know the warning signs and where to go for immediate care.
According to the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association, stroke is the No. 5 cause of death and a leading cause of adult disability in the United States.
On average, someone in the U.S. suffers a stroke every 40 seconds; someone dies of a stroke every four minutes.
Closer to home: the average age citizen in Collier County and Lee County is over 50—after age 50, stroke risk doubles every ten years.
Due to Southwest Florida’s “Stroke Belt” location, of critical importance is understanding the National Stroke Association’s Act FAST (Face Arms Speech Time) warning signs:
FACE: Ask the person to smile. Does one side of the face droop?
ARMS: Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm drift downward?
SPEECH: Ask the person to repeat a simple phrase. Is their speech slurred or strange?
TIME: If you observe any of these signs, call 9-1-1 immediately.
In fact, it can be easy to miss a stroke symptom; however, if you feel a loss of balance or experience any other warning signs, you may need immediate attention.
Physicians Regional-Pine Ridge and Physicians Regional-Collier Boulevard are Primary Stroke Centers committed to acting quickly when it comes to treating strokes and preventing complications.
Recognizing signs and symptoms can save a life and decrease the chances of permanent disabilities.
“Currently, less than 10% of people seen for stroke present in a timeframe which would allow them to be candidates for interventional treatments. The great bulk of stroke treatment is in identifying the patients’ needs, making the diagnosis, administering the appropriate medication, and determining if additional care is needed,” says Aileen Staller, DNP, ARNP, CNRN, and Stroke Center coordinator.
In the small percentage of cases where interventional neuroradiology treatment is required, patients are transferred—often times via air transport—to a nearby, more comprehensive treatment facility.
Our ability to act quickly and effectively in stroke-care scenarios has also led to recent national recognition.
Physicians Regional Healthcare System recently received the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association’s Get With The Guidelines®-Stroke Gold Plus Quality Achievement Award.
The award recognizes our commitment and success in ensuring stroke patients receive the most appropriate treatment according to nationally recognized, research-based guidelines based on the latest scientific evidence.
To receive the Gold Plus Quality Achievement Award, hospitals must achieve 85 percent or higher adherence to all Get With The Guidelines-Stroke achievement indicators for two or more consecutive 12-month periods and achieve 75 percent or higher compliance with five of eight Get With The Guidelines-Stroke Quality measures.
These quality measures are designed to help hospital teams provide the most up-to-date, evidence-based guidelines with the goal of speeding recovery and reducing death and disability for stroke patients.
They focus on appropriate use of guideline-based care for stroke patients, including aggressive use of medications such as clot-busting and anti-clotting drugs, blood thinners and cholesterol-reducing drugs, preventive action for deep vein thrombosis and smoking cessation counseling.
According to Staller: “A stroke patient loses 1.9 million neurons each minute stroke treatment is delayed. This recognition further demonstrates our commitment to delivering advanced stroke treatments to patients quickly and safely.”
Physicians Regional Healthcare System continues to strive for excellence in the acute treatment of stroke patients. The recognition from the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association’s Get With The Guidelines-Stroke further reinforces our team’s hard work.
“The American Heart Association and American Stroke Association recognizes Physicians Regional Healthcare System for its commitment to stroke care,” says Paul Heidenreich, M.D., M.S., national chairman of the Get With The Guidelines Steering Committee and Professor of Medicine at Stanford University. “Research has shown there are benefits to patients who are treated at hospitals that have adopted the Get With The Guidelines program.”
Primary Stroke Center care is located at: Physicians Regional–Pine Ridge, 6101 Pine Ridge Road, Naples, FL 34119. For information, please call 239-348-4000.
Physicians Regional–Collier Boulevard, 8300 Collier Boulevard Naples, FL 34114. For information, please call 239-354-6000.
Prevention is Key to Avoiding Heat Stroke
Ironically, the first sign of dangerous heat stroke or heat-related illness is often the absence of sweat. As the temperature rises, your body’s natural cooling mechanism – perspiration – evaporates and helps to cool your body. But on those really hot and humid days, evaporation is slowed and your body runs a higher risk of heat exhaustion or heat stroke.
“Virtually all heat-related illnesses are preventable,” said James Roach, D.O., and Board Certified Emergency Medicine Physician at Physicians Regional Healthcare System. “Be extra careful when the heat index is 90 degrees or above, and always drink plenty of water or fluids with electrolytes when the heat index is high. If you must be outdoors, take frequent breaks inside or in the shade. Heat stroke can affect people of any age or fitness level – don’t underestimate the danger.”
Heat exhaustion is a precursor to heat stroke. If you experience any of these symptoms, get out of the heat immediately and to a cool place, and slowly drink water or other fluids with salt or sugar:
• Pale skin
• Fatigue or weakness
• Dizziness or nausea
• Profuse sweating
• Rapid pulse or fast, shallow breathing
• Muscle weakness or cramps
Do NOT drink caffeine or alcohol, and if you don’t feel better within 30 minutes, seek medical help. Heat exhaustion can progress to heat stroke if not treated. These more dangerous warning signs can indicate heat stroke is imminent:
• Skin that feels hot and dry, but not sweaty
• Confusion or loss of consciousness
• Throbbing headache
• Frequent vomiting
• Trouble breathing
“Heat stroke is more serious than heat exhaustion, and it can be life-threatening,” said Dr. Roach. “If you or someone you know experiences signs of heatstroke, remember NOT to attempt to bring down the temperature too quickly. Don’t use ice or ice water. Attempt to bring down the temperature gradually with cool spray or mild air conditioning, and dial 911 or proceed immediately to the nearest ER.”
Certain groups of people are more vulnerable to heat-related illness. Babies and young children, the elderly or infirmed, and people on certain medications are all at increased risk. So, be an alert and informed neighbor this summer. Check on elderly neighbors regularly, and take action immediately if you see children or pets left in vehicles.