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    Stroke Network

    Our Stroke Ready Hospitals

    What is a Stroke?Today new treatments exist which can save lives and prevent paralysis if strokes are caught in time.  The hospitals of Covenant Health are working together to provide these state-of-the-art emergency treatments and advance stroke care in the region.

    The goal is to provide rapid early treatment of stroke.  Receiving medical attention as early as possible within the first hours of a stroke may greatly increase a person’s chance for survival and even complete recovery.

    Comprehensive Stroke Center

    Emergency RoomFort Sanders Regional Medical Center is certified as a Comprehensive Stroke Center by The Joint Commission, the American Heart Association and the American Stroke Association – the highest designation a hospital can receive for stroke care.

    Fort Sanders is a member of Covenant Health’s stroke network. Covenant Health has personnel specially trained in stroke emergency care at all of its acute care hospitals in Anderson, Roane, Loudon, Sevier, Hamblen and Knox Counties.

    The hospital emergency department staffs and EMS personnel work together to identify stroke patients who require therapy within a narrow therapeutic time window.  Teams determine the treatment that will result in the best outcome and may begin the treatment even before transport to Fort Sanders Regional Medical Center.

    Together, Covenant Health’s clinical and community education initiatives are leading the way to combat the devastating effects of stroke.

    Signs & Symptoms

    Today there are treatments that can reduce the risk of damage from the most common type of stroke, but only if you get help quickly.  That is why everyone should recognize the warning signs of stroke.  You may have some or all of the warning signs.   Note the time when symptoms started and call 9-1-1 immediately.   Stroke is a medical emergency.

    Warning Signs of Stroke or "Brain Attack"

    • Sudden numbness or weakness of the face, arm or leg, especially one side of the body
    • Sudden confusion, trouble speaking or understanding
    • Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes
    • Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination
    • Sudden severe headache with no known cause
    If you or a loved one experience any of these warning signs, contact 911 or go immediately to the closest hospital.

     

    Be prepared before you need to take emergency action.   Keep a list of emergency phone numbers with you at all times, just in case.  Learn what resources you have available in your area to help in a stroke emergency and know where the emergency entrance is to your nearest hospital.

    What is stroke?

    Stroke symptomsStroke is a brain attack, and like a heart attack, you should react accordingly.   A stroke occurs when a blood vessel bringing blood and oxygen to the brain gets blocked or ruptures so brain cells don’t get the flow of blood that they need.  When the flow of blood ceases, vital oxygen can’t reach the brain cells of the affected area.  Nerve cells start to die, resulting in a loss of important cerebral instructions to key parts of the body.  That’s why people experiencing a stroke may have trouble talking, standing, seeing.  The devastating effects of stroke are often permanent because dead brain cells can’t be replaced

    Brain Attack “Tremors”

    About 10 percent of strokes follow incidents called transient ischemic attacks, or TIAs.  These are like tremors before an earthquake and may occur days, weeks or months before the onset of major brain attack.  A TIA is a “mini-stroke” that occurs when a blood clot blocks an artery for a short time.  The symptoms of a TIA are like the warning signs of a stroke, but they usually last only a few minutes.  TIAs are strong predictors of stroke risk.  Don’t ignore them.  Call 9-1-1 or seek emergency medical attention immediately.

    Time Lost is Brain Lost

    Recognizing the symptoms of a brain attack will enable you to get medical attention immediately.  Do not delay seeking help if you or someone you know experiences one or more of the signs of stroke.   The effectiveness of new treatment methods and drugs improves when the patient receives help as soon as possible.

    Are You at Risk?

    The good news about stroke is that it’s largely preventable.  Research has shown that you can take steps to prevent stroke by reducing and controlling your risk factors.  Some risk factors can't be changed. Some can be, with behavior modification, will power, and a doctor's help if necessary.

    Though most commonly associated with elderly people, stroke can strike anyone—a baby, a child, an adult of any age. Various factors contribute to risk. For example, women in their late 20s and early 30s who take birth control pills have a 9 percent increase in brain attack risk. Those who also smoke have about a 22 percent increase in risk.

    Risk Factors You Can’t Control

    • Increasing age.  Stroke affects people of all ages. But the older you are, the greater your stroke risk.
    • Being male.  In most age groups, more men than women have stroke, but more women die from stroke.
    • Heredity and race.  People whose close blood relations have had a stroke have a higher risk of stroke themselves.  African Americans have a higher risk of death and disability from stroke than whites, because they have high blood pressure more often. Hispanic Americans are also at higher risk of stroke.
    • Prior stroke.  Someone who has had a stroke is at higher risk of having another one.

    Medically Treatable Factors

    • High blood pressure.  This is the single most important risk factor for stroke.  Know your blood pressure and if it’s 140/90 or above, it’s high.  Talk to your doctor about how to control it.
    • Diabetes mellitus.  While diabetes is treatable, having it increases your risk of stroke.
    • Carotid or other artery disease.  The carotid arteries in your neck supply blood to your brain.  A carotid artery damaged by a fatty buildup of plaque inside the artery wall may become blocked by a blood clot, causing a stroke.
    • TIAs. Transient ischemic attacks (TIAs) are “mini-strokes” that produce stroke-like symptoms but no lasting effects.   About 10 percent of strokes occur after the victim has experienced one or more TIAs.
    • Atrial fibrillation or other heart disease.
    • Certain blood disorders.  Sickle cell anemia and a high red blood cell count raise the risks of stroke, but they can be treated with medications.

    Do-It-Yourself Risk Reduction

    Smoking and excessive drinking can cause strokesHealthier lifestyles play a big part in decreasing disability and death from stroke and heart attack.  Here are risk factors that you can change.
    • Tobacco use.  Don’t smoke or use other forms of tobacco.  Cigarette smoking reduces blood oxygen and increases blood pressure.
    • High blood cholesterol and lipids.  Improve your eating habits and avoid foods high in fat.
    • Physical inactivity and obesity.  Find a physical activity you enjoy and reap the many benefits of regular exercise.
    • Drinking too much.  Don’t do it. Alcohol raises blood pressure, and binge drinking can trigger a stroke.
    • Drug abuse.   Just say no.  Cocaine use (even first-time) can cause a brain or heart attack and so can intravenous drug abuse.

    An Aspirin A Day?

    Aspirin acts as a blood thinner and can reduce the chance of blood clots.  However, check with your doctor on the advisability of taking aspirin regularly.  Some people should not take aspirin and your doctor will know if it is of benefit to you.

     

    How can I make my lifestyle healthier?

    The hospitals and medical facilities of Covenant Health have a variety of programs to help you lead a healthier, happier life, including smoking cessation, fitness programs, and stroke support groups.

    For information on these and other programs, contact us at 865-541-4500.
    © 2014 Covenant Health
    100 Fort Sanders West Blvd.
    Knoxville, TN 37922
    (865) 374-1000