Kentuckians at Greater Risk for Stroke
Louisville, Ky. (May 6, 2013) — For Kentuckians, the need to know the risk factors, warning signs and symptoms of stroke is more critical than in many states. May is National Stroke Awareness Month and KentuckyOne Health is working to educate the community and reduce the occurrence of stroke in the commonwealth.
Kentucky is a part of the “stroke belt,” a collection of southeastern states that rank above the national average in stroke mortality (death) rates. According to 2009 data from the Centers for Disease Control, Kentucky had the 11th highest stroke mortality rate in the nation and stroke accounted for five percent of all deaths in the state.
“The occurrence of stroke in Kentucky is alarming and even more so when you consider that such a large percentage of strokes could be avoided by appropriately managing risk factors,” said Kerri Remmel, MD, PhD, director, University of Louisville Hospital Stroke Center, part of KentuckyOne Health, and Interim Chair & Chief of Vascular Neurology, University of Louisville Department of Neurology.
Kentucky ranks above the national average in the occurrence of the modifiable risk factors(risk factors that can be controlled) that can lead to stroke, which include:
- High blood pressure
- High cholesterol
- Lack of exercise
- Being overweight or obese
A stroke occurs when a blood clot blocks an artery or a blood vessel breaks, interrupting blood flow to an area of the brain. During a stroke, brain cells begin to die and brain damage occurs. Receiving medical attention quickly during a stroke can reduce the amount of brain damage and subsequent disability. Research shows that 1.9 million neurons are lost each minute of a stroke.
“With stroke, time saved is brain saved,” said Remmel. “Across the state, medical leaders must continue to work together to deploy the resources needed in local hospitals to help stroke victims get care promptly.”
One of the state’s leading experts on stroke, Dr. Remmel serves as the State Stroke Champion for Kentucky and as co-chair of the Kentucky Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention Task Force. University of Louisville Hospital, part of KentuckyOne Health, is the first facility in the state, and the 20th in the nation, to earn an Advanced Comprehensive Stroke Center designation from The Joint Commission, an independent, nonprofit organization that accredits and certifies health care organizations and hospitals.
Jewish Hospital and Sts. Mary & Elizabeth Hospital, both part of KentuckyOne Health, are certified by The Joint Commission as Primary Stroke Centers with 24-hour-a-day, 7-day-a-week emergency coverage by neurologists and a comprehensive stroke care.
Warning signs and common symptoms of stroke include:
- Sudden weakness or numbness of the face, arm, or leg-especially along one side of the body
- Sudden confusion
- Sudden dimness or loss of vision, particularly in one eye
- Sudden difficulty speaking or trouble understanding speech
- Sudden severe headache with no known cause
- Unexplained dizziness, unsteadiness, or sudden falls, especially with any of the other signs
Recognizing and responding to these symptoms right away could save a life. Call 911 immediately if you see anyone experiencing any of these symptoms, or are experiencing them yourself.
Since strokes require immediate medical attention, emergency departments are the “front line” for stroke care. Many can provide intravenous tPA, drugs that breaks up the blood clot causing the stroke, if a patient arrives within hours of the onset of symptoms.
For patients who arrive at the emergency department more than three hours after a stroke, alternative treatments are employed which often require the expertise of a comprehensive stroke center.
“Managing risk factors is the first line of defense in preventing stroke,” said Remmel. “Take advantage of free blood pressure screenings and other health screenings in the community and talk to your doctor to determine if you are at risk.”
Stroke care starts with prevention. For just $50, KentuckyOne Health locations throughout Louisville, including Jewish Hospital, Sts. Mary & Elizabeth Hospital, Jewish Hospital Medical Center East, Jewish Hospital Medical Center Northeast, Jewish Hospital Medical Center South and Jewish Hospital Medical Center Southwest, offer stroke and vascular screenings to assess risk and identify preventative measures. To learn more, call 502.587.4327.
As the largest health care provider in the commonwealth, KentuckyOne Health is committed to improving the health of both individuals and entire communities.
About KentuckyOne Health
KentuckyOne Health was formed when two major Kentucky health care organizations came together in early 2012. KentuckyOne Health combines the Jewish and Catholic heritages of the two former systems – Jewish Hospital & St. Mary’s HealthCare and Saint Joseph Health System. In late 2012, the organization formed a partnership with the University of Louisville Hospital | James Graham Brown Cancer Center. The nonprofit system is committed to improving the health of Kentuckians by integrating medical research, education, technology and health care services wherever patients receive care. KentuckyOne Health has more than 200 locations including hospitals, physician groups, clinics, primary care centers, specialty institutes and home health agencies, with nearly 15,000 employees across the state of Kentucky and southern Indiana. KentuckyOne Health is the largest health system in Kentucky and has more than 3,100 licensed beds.
Kerri Remmel, MD, PhD, director, University of Louisville Hospital Stroke Center, part of KentuckyOne Health, and Interim Chair & Chief of Vascular Neurology, University of Louisville Department of Neurology.
High blood pressure is a contributing factor in stroke occurence.