Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

American Stroke Association Kicks off "Operation Stroke"

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

American Stroke Association Kicks off "Operation Stroke"

Article excerpt

When you're working at a business newspaper, it's easy to get caught up in what many consider the dark and dirty aspects of today's high-tech health care sector -- which provides paths of recovery from so many previously deadly diseases, but at a price few can afford without suffering financial hardship. That issue has been the underlying driver of this sector for a decade allegedly tamed under the rise of managed care and the coincidental economic boom of the Clinton era, but ready to rear its ugly head again if the economy should indeed tank, as some fear.

Every once in a while, though, a development arises that transcends the whips of supply and demand. One such program gets its launch Thursday in Oklahoma City and 44 other cities, when the American Stroke Association kicks off "Operation Stroke."

Stroke is the third-leading cause of death, and a leading cause of severe, long-term disability, accounting for one of every 14.5 deaths. Indeed, someone suffers a new or recurrent stroke very 53 seconds, and someone dies from it every 3.3 minutes. More than 60 percent of those are women. And yet, if these victims can get access to the clot-busting drug t-PA within three hours of the onset of stroke symptoms, their chances for recovery are significantly improved.

The goal behind "Operation Stroke," therefore, is simply to educate the public -- and remind our emergency medial systems personnel -- on the risks and signs of stroke, all to beat that three-hour limitation to this wonder drug approved five years ago by the Food and Drug Administration. The ASA, an arm of the American Heart Association, hopes to spread "Operation Stroke" to 125 cities in two years.

"Improving early recognition of stroke, reducing the time to treatment and controlling the risk factors for stroke are our best defenses in the war against stroke," said Dr. Janet Spradlin, a clinical specialist at St. Anthony Hospital and the 2001 Stroke Advocate of the Year, a title bestowed by the ASA's International Stroke Conference. "Immediate medical attention can make all the difference between life and death and in the quality of life for a stroke survivor. By knowing the warning signs and calling 9-1-1, we can all help reduce the devastating effects of stroke."

In a column such as this, such low-key community education efforts usually get regulated to the end of the discussion, once the latest business developments and the industry movers and shakers are covered. But every once in a while it's good and proper to turn the spotlight on wellness, which is just as important to containing health care costs as how much is spent in delivering the latest life- preserving devices and procedures. It's also easy to forget just how big a business this can be: As an example, the ASA spent $54 million in fiscal `99 on stroke-related research and programs.

Lest I forget, here are the symptoms of stroke:

* Sudden weakness or numbness of the face, arm and leg, especially on one side of the body.

* Sudden confusion, trouble speaking or understanding.

* Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes.

* Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination.

* Sudden severe headache with no known cause.

The chance of suffering a stroke may be reduced by practicing a healthy lifestyle, including controlling your high blood pressure, preventing high cholesterol, exercising, avoiding obesity and stopping your nasty smoking habit. And if you have atria fibrillation or carotid artery disease, see a physician.

People

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Nurse Avilla Williams has been promoted to vice president of branch operations for Deaconess Hospital and of the Deaconess branch in Bethany, where she oversees operations including mental health services and home health. …

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