The University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences in Little Rock was recently certified as a Comprehensive Stroke Center by the Joint Commission, a nonprofit accreditation institution that evaluates health care organizations, according to a UAMS press release.
Dr. Martin Radvany, who works with stroke victims at UAMS,, said that UAMS is one of the best places in the country to seek treatment and this latest accolade by the Joint Commission was recognition of that.
“What the stroke certification really is, it is a recognition of what has been happening at UAMS since, really, before I got here … the treatment of patients with strokes has been going on here at UAMS for quite some time … we have a team of physicians here which includes emergency medicine physicians, critical care physicians, neurosurgeons, neurologists, interventional neuroradiologists, diagnostic radiologists, as well as the support staff on the nursing side and rehabilitation side to physical therapy and occupational speech therapy, to really take care of patients not only with stroke disease but with cardiovascular diseases in general,” Radvany said.
Arkansas has one of the highest stroke rates in the country, as do many other southern states. Radvany attributed this to high rates of poor diet and high smoking rates in Arkansas. According to Radvany, the kind of lifestyle associated with heart attacks and heart disease are also associated with strokes: “smoking, high blood pressure, high cholesterol … these are the standard things, diet adds into it; these are the major risk factors we see.”
Symptoms of a stroke include a facial droop, difficulty speaking and numbness. Radvany said the major factor in diagnosing is whether or not there is a presence of pain. He said that after experiencing these symptoms, a person should seek emergency medical attention immediatley, as the faster a stroke is treated, the more positive the prognosis might be.
“If the symptoms get better, they should still get evaluated because that may have been what we call a ‘mini stroke’ or a transient ischemic attack, which is like a warning sign,” Radvany said. He said these smaller attacks could likely mean “this could get worse.”
Because individuals do not always experience pain when having a stroke, patients often will ignore the symptoms far too long. If the symptoms are left to get worse, Radvany said the physical symptoms can become so severe that the victim can’t do anything and only people nearby seeing the symptoms occur can help. If the symptoms aren’t then noticed early by someone nearby, he said it can be “too late for successful treatment.”
Radvany said healthier lifestyle choices can help reduce risk of strokes. His biggest tips were to quit smoking and pay regular visits to the doctor. In the event of a stroke, he said early detection, consistent checkups and consistently taking prescribed medicine can all help greatly.
Radvany did also say that while these lifestyle factors increase the risk of stroke for older patients, occasionally he had seen patients with healthy lifestyles suffer from strokes, generally in the younger population. “In the younger patients we will often see some kind of trauma, or sometimes a tear of a vessel in the neck,” he said. He also said that people with a history of strokes in their family are sometimes at greater risk.
UAMS provides stroke treatment 24/7, according to the press release. Individuals experiencing symptoms are encouraged to seek immediate treatmen, but should avoid trying to drive themselves.