May is National Stroke Awareness Month, and Lake Regional Health System has extra reason to celebrate. The hospital earned renewed certification as a Level II Stroke Center, and the Emergency Department purchased a new computed tomography (CT) machine. The new equipment will further shorten the time it takes to diagnose and treat stroke.
“Time is crucial in the treatment of stroke,” said Philip Kurle, M.D., with Lake Regional Neurology. “Both our certification as a Level II Stroke Center and our new CT machine make it possible for us to save precious minutes when a patient has signs of stroke.”
Level II Stroke Center
To help stroke patients receive the best care possible in the shortest amount of time, the State of Missouri has identified hospitals that are well-equipped to treat stroke. Lake Regional was among the first hospitals to earn a Level II Stroke Center designation in 2015, and now it has earned recertification through March 2022.
Because Lake Regional has earned this designation, EMS providers can bring stroke patients to Lake Regional. In addition, rather than having to transfer stroke patients on to another hospital, Lake Regional can receive transfers from other care centers.
Earlier this month, Lake Regional also was among the first Missouri hospitals to receive the Level II STEMI Center designation, which identifies it as a hospital that is well-equipped to treat acute heart attacks. And for several years, Lake Regional has maintained designation as a Level III Trauma Center.
New CT Machine
The new CT machine at Lake Regional Emergency Department provides CT perfusion, along with improved CT angiography. The angiography upgrade provides very high quality images of blood vessels in and leading to the brain. CT perfusion, meanwhile, shows whether there is a region of low or absent blood flow and the effects on the brain tissue — and it provides these answers more quickly than previous equipment.
“It can basically tell us, with a high degree of certainty, whether we are dealing with a stroke,” Dr. Kurle said. “Thus, it can fairly well evaluate and exclude ‘stroke mimics’ very quickly and without an MRI in many cases. It also can help us tell whether an interruption in blood flow is having significant effects on the brain tissue.”
As a result, the care team can determine very quickly the proper treatment — for example, thrombolysis with TPA to break up a clot, which can be done at Lake Regional, or transfer to a Level I Stroke Center for a catheter-based intervention, used in only a small percentage of stroke cases.
“The earlier a patient receives the proper treatment, the greater their chances are for recovery,” Dr. Kurle said.
Suspect a Stroke? Act FAST.
Stroke symptoms include sudden numbness or weakness on one side of the face or facial drooping; sudden numbness or weakness in an arm or leg, especially on one side of the body; sudden confusion, trouble speaking or understanding speech; sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes; sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination; and sudden severe headache with no known cause.
“If you suspect a stroke, remember the word ‘FAST’,” Dr. Kurle said. “F is for face — is it drooping? A is for arms — can you lift them? S is for speech — are you slurring your words? T is for time — call 911 immediately because with stroke, time is brain.”
To learn more about stroke care at Lake Regional, visit www.lakeregional.com/stroke.