Pikeville Medical Center (PMC) is the first hospital in the region to earn the gold seal of approval from The Joint Commission for Primary Stroke Centers. Only 10 hospitals in Kentucky have earned this accreditation, and no other Kentucky hospital east of Lexington.
The certification was granted following a detailed, on-site review of the hospital in November. It is based on the recommendations for primary stroke centers published by the Brain Attack Coalition and the American Stroke Association’s statements/guidelines for stroke care. The Joint Commission launched the program — the nation’s first — in 2003.
The “Golden Hour” is a term used by healthcare professionals to define the first hour after a patient first experiences stroke symptoms. The chances for surviving a stroke are increased if the patient reaches the hospital during this time period. One possible treatment available at PMC is tPa, a “clot-busting” drug that can only be administered within three hours of the onset of stroke symptoms when medically indicated for an ischemic (clot) stroke. Therefore, it is critical for patients to come to the hospital as quickly as possible when they first begin to experience strokelike symptoms in order for an appropriate treatment to be determined.
According to the American Heart Association’s ‘Get With the Guidelines Stroke Improvement Program,’ 27.1 percent of more than 100,000 patients who arrived within the “Golden Hour” were able to be treated with tPa. Of those who arrived one to three hours after the onset of symptoms, only 12.9 percent were able to receive tPa.
Early treatment of stroke symptoms may mean more treatment options and a better outcome. A stroke can happen to anyone, but according to the National Stroke Association, after the age of 55, your stroke risk doubles every decade.
The warning signs of a stroke include: sudden numbness or weakness of the face, arm or leg, especially on 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; or sudden, severe headache with no known cause.