By Rep. Ryan Mackenzie (R-Berks/Lehigh)
Strokes are the fifth leading cause of death and the leading cause of disability in the United States today. In fact, every 40 seconds, someone in the United States has a stroke and every four minutes, someone dies of stroke. It is estimated worldwide that one out of every four individuals will suffer a stroke during his or her lifetime. To raise greater awareness about strokes and how to identify them, I have introduced a resolution recognizing Oct. 29, 2020, as World Stroke Day in Pennsylvania.
According to the American Stroke Association, a stroke is a disease that affects the arteries leading to and within the brain.
To help identify if someone is having a stroke, remember the acronym FAST:
· F – Face / Does the face droop on one side when the person smiles?
· A – Arm / After raising both arms, does one arm drift downward?
· S – Speech /After repeating a simple phrase, does the person’s speech sound slurred or strange?
· T – Time / If any or all of the above are observed, call 9-1-1 and ask for medical assistance.
Research shows the faster a person is identified as having a stroke and gets treatment, the better the outcome, because nearly 2 million brain cells die every minute a stroke goes untreated.
To help ensure anyone suffering a stroke in Pennsylvania gets prompt, targeted treatment, I authored a law in 2017 creating three specific levels of certified stroke centers to treat patients based on their individual needs. The three levels of certification are primary stroke centers, acute stroke-ready hospitals, and comprehensive stroke centers.
Pennsylvania has more than 80 certified primary stroke centers. Here in the Lehigh Valley, we have St. Luke’s Hospital and Lehigh Valley Health Network’s Cedar Crest location, which became one of the first comprehensive stroke centers in the nation in 2012.
Today, emergency responders take stroke victims to the nearest stroke center qualified to treat the severity and type of stroke occurring. This ensures stroke patients receive the best possible treatment.
Previously, emergency responders were directed to transport stroke victims to the nearest “primary stroke center,” which did not take into account that different hospitals have different equipment and physicians who specialize in certain types of stroke response.
This change in the way Pennsylvania assesses and cares for stroke victims is making a big difference for the thousands of stroke patients we treat each year.
For more information about strokes, go to www.stroke.org.
Information provided to TVL by:
Representative Ryan Mackenzie
Pennsylvania House of Representatives