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Free Education Dinner on Recognizing a Stroke is June 16

Free Education Dinner on Recognizing a Stroke is June 16

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

Ozarks Medical Center will offer a free community education dinner 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 last year. 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 comprehensive 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. Since then, tPA has been severely underutilized. 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 20-year mission 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. “I’ve spent the last 19 years trying to change the perception of stroke. 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. 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 right away to avoid giving clot buster to someone with a hemorrhage or another problem. The “clot busting drug,” tPA, may be given right away if the diagnosis is confirmed and blood pressure is controlled.

The national standard is to administer the tPA within 60 minutes of arrival at the hospital. OMC’s average for 2015 was 43 minutes.

“We are very proud that OMC’s response time beats the national standard. 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 that unfortunately, only 4 percent of stroke patients nationwide receive the recommended treatment in the key hours after stroke.

“OMC has worked diligently over the past 19 years to educate the community on the importance of fast action. Currently, we are able to treat 29% of ischemic strokes with tPA at Ozarks Medical Center, much higher than the national average. We treat 100% of strokes that are eligible for the treatment. 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 24/7 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 or Target Stroke, contact the OMC Neurosciences Center at 417-257-6777. To make reservations to attend the free educational dinner, call 417-257-6793.

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