SJ/C earns the highest award for stroke care

May 13, 2015

Every stroke patient, every time. For four consecutive years SJ/C has ensured our stroke patients were treated following guidelines scientifically proven to improve patient outcomes.

St. Joseph’s/Candler has once again earned the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association’s Get With The Guidelines Stroke Gold Plus Performance Achievement Award.

gold-plus-2015This award recognizes that St. Joseph’s/Candler patients receive the highest-quality, evidence-based stroke treatment techniques as recommended by the AHA. Both St. Joseph’s Hospital and Candler Hospital earned the award.

SJ/C has invested in technology that allows our neurologists to remotely diagnose and treat stroke patients in seven rural hospitals in southeast Georgia. But that investment would mean nothing if our physicians and nurses didn’t practice the best medicine.

To receive the award, SJ/C achieved 85 percent or higher adherence to all Get With The Guidelines-Stroke Performance Achievement indicators for two or more consecutive 12-month intervals and achieved 75 percent or higher compliance with six of eight Get With The Guidelines-Stroke Quality Measures, which are reporting initiatives to measure quality of care.

These measures include aggressive use of medications, such as tPA, antithrombotics, anticoagulation therapy, DVT prophylaxis, cholesterol reducing drugs, patient and family education and smoking cessation, all aimed at reducing death and disability and improving the lives of stroke patients.

Time Is Brain

There is only a limited amount of time when neurologists can administer clot-busting drugs to a stroke patient. This is why it is critical for patients to recognize the warning signs of a stroke and get to a hospital.

Unfortunately many in our area haven’t received that message. The death rate for stroke patients in Coastal Georgia is 40 percent higher than the national average, according the Georgia Coverdell Acute Stroke Registry.

The St. Joseph’s/Candler Stroke NET-work has neurologists available at all times to treat patients remotely in rural hospitals who may not have a neurologist on staff. Our doctors have treated more than 1,600 stroke patients in the region since 2009.

Signs of Stroke: FAST
F: Face. Ask the person to smile. Does the side of one’s face seem to 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 observe any one of these warning signs, call 911 immediately.

Risk Factors

Risk factors you cannot change:
• Your age. Risk of stroke increases with age.
• Your gender. Men have a higher risk of getting heart disease than women except in older adults.
• Your genes or race. If your parents had a stroke, you are at higher risk. African-Americans, Mexican Americans, American Indians, Hawaiians, and some Asian Americans also have a higher risk for heart problems.
• Diseases such as cancer, heart disease, chronic kidney disease, and some types of arthritis.
• Weak areas in an artery wall or abnormal arteries and veins.
• Pregnancy-- both during and in the weeks right after the pregnancy.

Risk factors you can change:
• Do not smoke. If you do smoke, quit.
• Control your cholesterol through diet, exercise, and medicines, if needed.
• Control high blood pressure through diet, exercise, and medicines, if needed.
• Control diabetes through diet, exercise, and medicines, if needed
• Exercise at least 30 minutes a day.
• Maintain a healthy weight by eating healthy foods, eating less, and joining a weight loss program, if needed.
• Limit how much alcohol you drink. This means one drink a day for women and two a day for men.
• Avoid cocaine and other illegal drugs.
• Talk to your doctor about the risk of birth control pills. Birth control pills can increase the chance of blood clots, which can lead to stroke. Clots are more likely in women who also smoke and who are older than 35.

Stroke data
• Stroke is the fifth leading cause of death in Georgia.
• 23 percent of people who died from stroke in 2006 were younger than 65
• Obesity, high blood pressure, lack of physical activity, diabetes and high cholesterol increase the risk of stroke.’sCandler


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