Sudden weakness, numbness, or problems with walking or speech are all possible signs of stroke. If you notice any of these signs in yourself or a loved one, the next three hours are critical. Stroke patients have the best chance of recovery if they get the right diagnosis and treatment within three hours.
With this in mind, Washington Regional has partnered with the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) to provide life-saving emergency care for stroke patients in Northwest Arkansas. The program, called Arkansas SAVES (Stroke Assistance Through Virtual Emergency Support), uses a high-tech video communications system that links emergency room doctors at Washington Regional to specially trained neurologists at UAMS, helping to provide immediate, life-saving treatment to stroke victims 24 hours a day. This telemedicine program enables a UAMS stroke neurologist to diagnosis the type of stroke and, if indicated, authorize use of a powerful clot buster within the critical three-hour period following the first signs of stroke. Washington Regional is the only hospital in Northwest Arkansas to provide this service.
This timely treatment can improve an ischemic stroke victim's chances of living without a major, costly disability. Even when rushed to their local hospital emergency department, many stroke patients still are at high risk of death or permanent disability because emergency departments typically aren't staffed by a neurologist who can diagnose the type of stroke and whether to treat it with t-PA, the blood-clot dissolving agent used for ischemic stroke. The nationwide direct and indirect cost of medical and institutional care of permanently disabled stroke victims was $57.9 billion in 2006. According to the national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Arkansas had 1,847 stroke-related deaths in 2005, and ranks third highest among all states in stroke deaths, with 61 per 100,000 residents.