Northwestern Medicine Stroke Program Recognized by the American Heart Association

Northwestern Medicine
News May 30, 2013
The Northwestern Medicine Stroke Program has received the Get With The Guidelines®–Stroke Gold Plus Quality Achievement Award from the American Heart Association (AHA). The award recognizes Northwestern Memorial Hospital’s commitment and success in implementing a higher standard of care by ensuring that stroke patients receive treatment according to nationally accepted guidelines.
2013 Stroke Gold Plus Award“At Northwestern, we are dedicated to making our stroke program among the best in the country and the American Heart Association’s Get With The Guidelines program helps us to accomplish this goal,” said Richard Bernstein, MD, director of the Stroke Program and Telestroke at Northwestern Memorial and associate professor of neurology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. “Timing is critical when a stroke occurs and urgent treatment is required to prevent serious brain damage. It’s crucial to have the right plan and guidelines in place so that we can provide the highest quality care for our stroke patients.”

Get with the Guidelines–Stroke helps hospitals develop and implement acute and secondary prevention guideline processes to improve patient care and outcomes. The program provides a web-based patient management tool, best practice discharge protocols and standing orders, along with a robust registry and real-time benchmarking capabilities to track performance. The quick and efficient use of guideline procedures can improve the quality of care for stroke patients and may reduce disability and save lives. The program emphasizes aggressive risk-reduction therapies including the use of medications such as tPA, antithrombotics and anticoagulation therapy, along with cholesterol reducing drugs and smoking cessation counseling. These are all aimed at reducing death and disability and improving the lives of stroke patients.  

“We are always striving to improve care for stroke patients,” said Bernstein. “This recognition tells us we’re on the right track. Our Stroke Program emphasizes all aspects of stroke care including acute medical and surgical treatments, rehabilitation and prevention.”  

According to the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association, stroke is one of the leading causes of death and serious, long-term disability in the United States. Lifestyle factors, including being overweight, consuming too much salt and fat, smoking and excessive drinking, and being sedentary can all increase a person’s risk of stroke. Medical conditions, especially high blood pressure or hypertension, high cholesterol and diabetes heighten the likelihood that a person will suffer a stroke. Stroke risk increases after age 55, though a stroke is possible at any age. African-Americans are at higher risk than Caucasians and men have a slightly higher occurrence than women. Family history is also an important indicator of a person’s stroke risk.  

“While not every stroke risk is controllable, understanding your own risk factors and taking steps to manage those that are lifestyle-based can help with prevention," said Bernstein. Understanding risk factors and learning to recognize symptoms can potentially save lives and limit damage if a stroke occurs. By taking a quick health survey, you can learn about your personal risk factors with our online Stroke Risk Assessment.  

To remember the signs of stroke, the American Stroke Association recommends using the acronym FAST:

• Face – Ask the person to smile. Does one side of the face droop?
• Arms – Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm drift downward?
• Speech – Ask the person to speak. Does the person have slurred speech or trouble speaking?
• Time – If you observe any of the above signs, call 9-1-1.  

Northwestern Medicine is the shared vision that joins Northwestern Memorial HealthCare and Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in a collaborative effort to transform medicine through quality healthcare, academic excellence and scientific discovery. 
Learn more about the Northwestern Medicine Stroke Program online or to find a physician, please call 312.926.0779.
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