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Free Education Dinner on Recognizing a Stroke is June 20

Free Education Dinner on Recognizing a Stroke is June 20

Dr. Clara Applegate to present “Surviving a Stroke: Minutes Matter”

Ozarks Medical Center will offer a free community education dinner Tuesday, June 20 from 6 to 7 p.m. at OMC Parkway Center. Dr. Clara Applegate, Neurologist at Ozarks Medical Center (OMC) Neurosciences Center will speak on how to “spot a stroke” and what to do, the critical importance of time to treatment, and stroke prevention tips. The dinner is free, but reservations are required and can be made by calling 417-257-6793. OMC is encouraging everyone to attend. Stopping a stroke in time can make all the difference in someone’s life.

Attending an OMC Stroke Education Dinner turned out to be a life-changing event for Ellen Drapkin, who suffered a stroke at home in the middle of the night two years ago. When she fell out of bed, her husband Ed recognizes the FAST symptoms he had learned at an OMC Stroke Education Dinner and called 911, saying, “I think my wife is having a stroke.” First responders activated the stroke alert and because of Ed’s quick action, Ellen has made a complete recovery and is back to driving, working and doing the things she enjoys.

“When someone is suffering from a stroke, time and expertise are critically important from the first second.” said Dr. Applegate. “We are extremely proud of our stroke program and the team of professionals who respond quickly and efficiently to stroke, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.”

In 1996, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved Tissue Plasminogen Activator (tPA) for acute ischemic stroke. At the time when most practitioners were being first exposed to the literature concerning tPA, Dr. Applegate began the Stroke Team at OMC. She saw the benefits of tPA and began a mission that has spanned two decades to educate the community that stopping a stroke in time can make all the difference in someone’s life.

This mission continues today for Dr. Applegate as her passion for the cause is evident to anyone who has the chance to visit with her. “It is essential that at the first signs of stroke, people need to come in to the hospital and be evaluated. Even if it turns out to not be a stroke, it is so important that they be seen.”

OMC’s multidisciplinary stroke team is made up of nurses, physicians, neurologists, ambulance services, therapists and Emergency Department workers who respond to stroke. Washington University in St. Louis provides tele-stroke coverage when a local provider is not available, enabling OMC to offer 24/7 stroke coverage.

According to Dr. Applegate, the first step is that people need to be aware and call 911. All of the EMS systems (ground and air ambulances) recognize that stroke is an emergency and that every minute counts, so as soon as the 911 call comes in, EMS notifies the stroke team at OMC to be on alert. When the patient arrives at the hospital the stroke is confirmed by the doctors and CT scan is done right away. CT scan of the head must be done to avoid giving clot buster to someone with a hemorrhage or another problem. The “clot busting drug,” tPA, may be given immediately if the diagnosis is confirmed and there are no other medical reasons the patient cannot receive it.

“The quicker someone can receive care for a stroke, the better the outcomes for their long-term health may be,” Dr. Applegate said. “Having a trained stroke response team ready to act allows us to rapidly identify and assess a patient’s condition. It is not always possible to prevent a stroke, but with timely, evidence-based care, it is possible to prevent many of the complications of stroke.”

Dr. Applegate said it is critical for those who may be experiencing a stroke to act fast and call 911.

“Even if you are close to the hospital, it is important to call 911,” she said. “The technicians can begin treatment in the ambulance and can notify the Emergency Department to put the OMC Stroke Team on alert.”

The clot buster, tPA must be given within a 3 hours from the start of stroke symptoms. The American Heart Association reports the percentage of stroke patients nationwide receiving the recommended treatment has dramatically increased over the last several years.

“OMC has worked diligently to educate the community on the importance of fast action. We are striving for all patients who come to be treatable, but that depends upon the community. Too often, people wait to see if they'll get better. If they wait too long, we cannot administer tPA,” according to Dr. Applegate. “We have been providing stroke care since 1997 and with each year, we do a little better, as more people recognize that stroke is an emergency."

The signs of stroke are easy to remember using the acronym FAST (face, arm, speech, time): Face drooping, Arm weakness, Speech difficulty and Time to call 911.

For more information on stroke, contact the OMC Neurosciences Center at 417-257-6777. To make reservations to attend the free educational dinner June 20, call 417-257-6793.

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