Stroke is a medical emergency

Calling 911 improves outcomes

TORONTO, June 18, 2012 /CNW/ - The Ontario Stroke Network today released its report on delivery of stroke care in each of Ontario's 14 Local Health Integration Networks (LHIN).

Residents of the South West LHIN are slowly getting the message but aren't always dialing 911. The Ontario Stroke Evaluation Report demonstrates that in 2010-11, roughly half of all people in the SW LHIN who experienced the warning signs of stroke arrived at an emergency department within the recommended 3.5 hours of symptom onset.

"The South West LHIN is pleased that so many people in our area are recognizing the warning signs of stroke and taking action. This increases their chances of receiving  a clot busting drug that can reduce the disability associated with stroke," said Michael Barrett, CEO South West Local Health Integration Network (LHIN). We need to continue to work with our communities to ensure more people are arriving within this window of opportunity."

It is critical to call 911 since not all hospitals have diagnostic and other necessary resources that enable them to provide the clot-buster, known as tPA.  Ambulance paramedics are trained to assess a person's condition and may bypass the nearest hospital so the patient accesses a facility that has capacity to diagnose and give tPA.

"Time is Brain; for every second a stroke is actively occurring , a person loses about 30,000 brain cells", said  Sharon Mytka, Director of the Southwestern Ontario Stroke Network. "That means 2 million brain cells vanishing every minute."  Mytka urges people to call 911 they experience or see someone experiencing  these warning signs of stroke, even if temporary:

  • Sudden loss of strength or sudden numbness in the face, arm or leg
  • Sudden trouble speaking or understanding, or sudden confusion
  • Sudden trouble with vision
  • Sudden severe and unusual headache
  • Sudden loss of balance, especially with any of the above signs.

The report card released today by the Ontario Stroke Network is a call to action. "We made steady gains in the majority of the report card indicators", says Mytka, "Yet there is still much work to be done so that we can deliver optimal care, prevent strokes through better risk management, improve access to secondary prevention clinics, establish more acute stroke units across the LHIN, and improve the access and appropriateness of rehabilitation after stroke."

To this end the Southwestern Ontario Stroke Network and the Southwest LHIN are collaborating and developing strategies to facilitate the system transformation that is needed.  Regional forums with hospital administrators and front line staff have started the dialogue for change.

The report card, both at the Provincial and South West LHIN levels, can be found on the South West LHIN website in the Stroke Network Backgrounder in the Newsroom section.

PDF available at: http://stream1.newswire.ca/media/2012/06/18/20120618_C9809_DOC_EN_15238.pdf

SOURCE South West Local Health Integration Network

For further information:

Sharon Mytka
Southwestern Ontario Stroke Network 
519 685-8500, ext. 32214
Sharon.mytka@lhsc.on.ca   

Annabelle Mackey
South West LHIN
519 672-0445, ext. 2573
nnabelle.mackey@lhins.on.ca   
Toll-free: 1 866 294-5446
www.southwestlhin.on.ca

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South West Local Health Integration Network

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Southwestern Ontario Stroke Network

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