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St. Mary’s honored for stroke, heart care

stroke heart awards6/06/16 — ATHENS, GA – St. Mary’s Health Care System has received its seventh consecutive Gold Plus Quality Achievement Award for stroke care from the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association, the highest level of recognition available. In addition, the association named St. Mary’s to its Target: StrokeSM Honor Roll for the fifth year in a row for meeting or exceeding guidelines for rapid care for stroke patients.

St. Mary’s also received two additional awards from the AHA/ASA: the Get with the Guidelines (GWTG) silver award for resuscitation of patients suffering a cardiopulmonary arrest while in the hospital, and the GWTG Mission: Lifeline® bronze award for rapid treatment of patients coming to the hospital with heart attacks.

“We are deeply honored to receive these prestigious awards, which demonstrate that St. Mary’s consistently meets or exceeds the highest standards in the nation for stroke and heart attack care,” said St. Mary’s President and CEO Don McKenna. “At every level of our health care ministry, we strive for excellence in the acute treatment of stroke and heart attack patients. These recognitions from the American Heart Association and American Stroke Association further reinforce our team’s hard work.”

For each award, AHA/ASA requires hospitals to demonstrate compliance with rigorous standards for care. For example:

•GWTG Gold Plus award for stroke care: The gold award is presented to hospitals that achieve 85 percent or higher adherence with all stroke achievement measure for at least two years in a row. The “Plus” indicates adherence to at least five of eight even more rigorous stroke quality measures at least 75 percent of the time. St. Mary’s has maintained its Gold Plus level of care since 2010.

•Target: StrokeSM: This honor roll signifies achievement of quality measures that aim to reduce the time between arrival and treatment with the clot-busting drug Alteplase (tPA). Alteplase is the only drug approved by the U.S. Food and Drug administration to treat ischemic stroke, which happens when a blood clot blocks an artery in the brain. If given in the first three hours after the start of stroke symptoms, Alteplase has been shown to significantly reduce the effects of stroke and lessen the risk of disability in many stroke patients. St. Mary’s has been named to the Target: StrokeSM Honor Roll continuously since 2012.

•GWTG Silver Award for resuscitation: Recipients demonstrate 85 percent or higher adherence for at least one year to guidelines governing care of patients who suffer a heart attack in the hospital. These patients may require emergency CPR, rescue ventilation, defibrillation or other forms of resuscitation in order to survive.

•Mission: Lifeline® Bronze Award: Recipients consistently demonstrate adherence to quality guidelines for care of patients seeking care for heart attack symptoms. Mission: Lifeline® works to help hospitals and Emergency Medical Service remove barriers to prompt treatment. For example, EMS providers can transmit an EKG of the patient’s heart function to St. Mary’s while en route. Patients with clear signs of heart attack can be taken directly to the hospital’s cardiac catheterization laboratory for balloon angioplasty and stent implantation.

Stroke is the nation’s leading cause of disability among adults and the fifth leading cause of death, affecting about 800,000 Americans each year. In most cases, plaque slowly narrows an artery in the brain. Eventually a blood clot blocks blood flow through the narrowed artery, causing up to 2 million brain cells to die from lack of blood flow each minute. Symptoms come on suddenly and include trouble walking, talking or seeing; weakness or paralysis (often worse on one side of the body than the other), and severe headache.

Heart disease affects some 735,000 Americans each year and is the nation’s leading cause of death. As in the majority of strokes, plaque slowly narrows an artery in the heart. When a blood clot blocks blood flow, heart tissue served by that blood vessel starts to die. Symptoms may be mild or severe, and can include pain or discomfort in the chest, jaw, neck, arm, shoulder or back; weakness, light-headedness or feeling faint, and shortness of breath. Some patients, especially women, report vague symptoms coupled with a sense of dread or doom.

Whenever stroke or heart attack symptoms appear, call 911 immediately. Fast treatment can save many lives and help prevent disability. For more information, visit heart.org.

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