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OSF Saint Anthony’s nationally recognized for high-quality stroke care commitment

The American Heart Association presented its Get With The Guidelines – Stroke GOLD PLUS award for proven dedication to ensuring all stroke patients have access to best practices and life-saving care

OSF Saint Anthony’s Health Center has received the American Heart Association’s Get With The Guidelines® – Stroke Gold Plus quality achievement award for its commitment to ensuring stroke patients receive the most appropriate treatment according to nationally recognized, research-based guidelines, ultimately leading to more lives saved and reduced disability.

Stroke is the No. 5 cause of death and a leading cause of disability in the U.S. A stroke occurs when a blood vessel that carries oxygen and nutrients to the brain is either blocked by a clot or bursts. When that happens, part of the brain cannot get the blood and oxygen it needs, so brain cells die. Early stroke detection and treatment are key to improving survival, minimizing disability and accelerating recovery times.

Get With The Guidelines puts the expertise of the American Heart Association and American Stroke Association to work for hospitals nationwide, helping ensure patient care is aligned with the latest research- and evidence-based guidelines. Get With The Guidelines – Stroke is an in-hospital program for improving stroke care by promoting consistent adherence to these guidelines, which can minimize the long-term effects of a stroke and even prevent death.

“OSF Saint Anthony’s is committed to improving patient care by adhering to the latest treatment guidelines,” says Jerry Rumph, MHA, FACHE, president, OSF Saint Anthony’s Health Center. “Get With The Guidelines makes it easier for our teams to put proven knowledge and guidelines to work on a daily basis, which studies show can help patients recover better. The end goal is to ensure more people in the Riverbend region can experience longer, healthier lives.”

Each year, program participants qualify for the award by demonstrating how their organization has committed to providing quality care for stroke patients. In addition to following treatment guidelines, Get With The Guidelines participants also educate patients to help them manage their health and recovery at home.

“We are incredibly pleased to recognize OSF Saint Anthony’s Health Center for its commitment to caring for patients with stroke,” said Steven Messe, M.D., volunteer chairperson of the American Heart Association Stroke System of Care Advisory Group and professor of neurology and director of fellowships of neurology at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania. “Participation in Get With The Guidelines is associated with improved patient outcomes, fewer readmissions and lower mortality rates – a win for health care systems, families and communities.”

Additionally, OSF Saint Anthony’s also received the American Heart Association’s Target: StrokeSM Honor Roll award. To qualify for this recognition, hospitals must meet specific criteria that reduce the time between an eligible patient’s arrival at the hospital and treatment with the clot-buster alteplase.

Plus, OSF Saint Anthony’s also received the American Heart Association’s Target: Type 2 Honor Roll award. Target: Type 2 Diabetes aims to ensure patients with Type 2 diabetes, who might be at higher risk for complications, receive the most up-to-date, evidence-based care when hospitalized due to stroke.

Stroke kills nearly 150,000 of the 860,000 Americans who die of cardiovascular disease each year—that’s 1 in every 19 deaths from all causes.

“If you or a loved one has ever had a stroke, you may be familiar with the phrase time is brain—meaning time is of the essence when treating a stroke,” says Dennis Sands, MD, chief medical officer, OSF Saint Anthony’s Health Center. “With each moment that a stroke goes untreated, the nervous tissue in the brain is rapidly and irreversibly damaged.”

This is disturbing because about 80% of strokes are preventable. You can greatly reduce your risk for stroke by making lifestyle changes to help control your blood pressure and cholesterol levels and, in some cases, by taking medication.

An easy way to remember the most common signs of stroke and how to respond is with the acronym B.E. F.A.S.T.:

  • B = Balance: Ask the person if they’re having sudden difficulty with balance.
  • E = Eyes: Ask the person if they’re experiencing vision problems in one or both eyes.
  • F = Face drooping: Ask the person to smile. Does one side droop?
  • A = Arm weakness: Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm drift downward?
  • S = Speech difficulty: Ask the person to repeat a simple sentence. Are the words slurred?
  • T = Time to call 9-1-1: If the person shows any of these signs, call 9-1-1 immediately.

Other common signs of stroke are:

  • Sudden dizziness, trouble walking, or loss of balance or coordination
  • Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes
  • Sudden severe headache with no known cause
  • Sudden numbness of the face, arm, or leg
  • Sudden confusion or trouble understanding others

If you think that you or someone you know is having a stroke, call 9-1-1 immediately. Stroke is a medical emergency, and stroke treatment and outcomes depend on how fast you get to the hospital and the type of stroke you had. When you are transported by ambulance, first responders may be able to start your treatment right away and can alert the hospital that a stroke patient is on the way.

This notification gives the hospital’s medical team time to prepare equipment and medicines you may need.

High blood pressure is the single most important treatable risk factor for stroke. Preventing, diagnosing, and controlling it through lifestyle changes and medicine are critical to reducing stroke risks.

Anyone, including children, can have a stroke at any time. Every year, about 800,000 people in the United States have a stroke—and about 1 out of 4 of those strokes are recurrent strokes. “Having one stroke means you have a greater risk of having another (or recurrent) stroke,” says Dr. Sands.

Several factors that are beyond your control can increase your risk for stroke. These include your age, sex, and ethnicity. But there are many unhealthy habits, such as smoking, drinking too much alcohol, and not getting enough exercise, that you can change to lower your stroke risk. Using tobacco products and having high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, or obesity can also increase your risk for stroke.

However, treating these conditions can reduce your risk. Ask your doctor about preventing or treating these medical conditions.

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