Fairbanks Memorial Hospital organizes campaign as part of Stroke Awareness Month

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FAIRBANKS, Alaska The nation is celebrating stroke awareness in the month of May. The Fairbanks Memorial Hospital has organized a campaign to bring awareness to the common but sometimes life changing disease.

The American Heart Association has developed the FAST scale to help people to remember the most important signs to remember.

Sarah Martin is the Chief Nursing Officer at Fairbanks Memorial Hospital says strokes are the fifth leading cause of death in the United States.

“Strokes consist of either a clot in your brain or a bleed in your brain that leaves often permanent damage,” she said.

Martian said the most important thing for people to know about strokes is that time is of the essence.

“You lose about 2-million brain cells a minute when you are having a stroke. That is why being aware of the signs and symptoms and knowing that you need to call 911, and get to a hospital immediately is the most important things,” said Martin.

The American Heart Association has developed the FAST scale to help people to remember the most important signs to remember.

F stands for Face, meaning it either droops or is weak on one side.

A stands for Arm, meaning weakness or a tingling sensation on one side of the body. It can also be felt in the legs.

S stands for Speech, if someone can’t talk or they are having trouble finding words.

The last is T, standing for the time you need to get to the hospital.

“The biggest one is time. So they are going to want to know the last known well time, if the person is aware of that. So when was the last time you didn’t have any deficits or problems, and that has a great impact on how you may be treated,” said Martin.

Martian says once a certain amount of time has gone by you can’t actually recover those brain cells and/or treat the stroke and work on trying to get patients back to as much functionality as possible.
She went through the process of what the nursing staff and doctors would do if a patient was to come in with symptoms of a stroke.

“So the first thing that people should be saying is, “I have had a sign and symptom report or my loved one has signs or symptoms of a stroke.” From there we take you to the CT scan and get a neurologist to consult right away depending on what that time laps is, and then from there it depends on what type of stoke you have had and what the treatment will be,” she said.

She wanted people to know that strokes are very common. People can have small strokes, and they can have stokes that go away. Some people can have stokes that infringe on the rest of life.

Martin also said Increasing awareness and acknowledgement that the most important thing is to seek immediate treatment especially in a place like Fairbanks.

“We service the upper 2/3’s of the state so it can take a long time for people to come to the hospital, and that window of time is relatively short, and so getting somebody here, making them aware of the symptoms and making sure that they know they need to get help right away, that’s what is most important and what we would like to bring awareness too,” she said.

The American Heart Association has a “Get with the guidelines campaign,” what it does is helps hospitals track their progress with stroke care. It is a set of standards in which they would like everyone to meet, talking about how quickly they want to educate people to get to the hospital, and how quickly doctors should diagnose patients, and treatment plans.

“We have been tracking our progress in the get with the guidelines for about two years now and we are utilizing that to do ongoing performance and how to better treat the patients in our community,” she said.

Fairbanks Memorial Hospital has now implemented a new tool to help those who have suffered from a stroke called the Tele-stroke. A device that allows doctors and nurses to contact a Neurologist at any given time. They move the camera from their end and have a headset on, and they look at you through the camera and then they see everything that you are doing.

“Our local neurologists are fabulous but they are not always in the building 24-hours a day. And so when we need someone to come right away and asses the patient that’s what this does,” said Martin.

She said it is an incredible opportunity to be able to have this cutting edge and revolutionary tool and it is just another way that FMH can help treat their patients get the help they need.

For More Information on Stroke Awareness visit the Stroke Association Website