Heart association recommends EMS go up to a half hour out of the way to reach a Comprehensive Stroke Center

Norton Brownsboro Hospital earned the title in 2015. It’s one of only 143 hospitals in the nation.

If someone is having a stroke, the chance of survival when taken to a Comprehensive Stroke Center versus another hospital can be significant. So significant, in fact, that the American Heart Association and American Stroke Association (AHA/ASA) recommend emergency medical services (EMS) go out of their way if necessary to take stroke patients to one of these accredited centers.

Norton Brownsboro Hospital became a Comprehensive Stroke Center in 2015. It is one of only 143 hospitals in the nation with this important designation.

The AHA/ASA asked its Lifeline Stroke Committee to develop a stroke plan for EMS. The committee decided that if a severe stroke is suspected, a 15-minute drive was acceptable to get patients to a Comprehensive Stroke Center instead of a Primary Stroke Center, which is a step down. In rural communities, a 20- to 30-minute delay was deemed acceptable to get patients to a comprehensive center.

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Do you know the signs of a stroke? BE FAST

If you think someone might be having a stroke, remember to BE FAST to get help:

Balance: Is the person having trouble walking? Do they have a loss of balance or coordination or dizziness?

Eyes: Is the person having trouble seeing? Has the person had a change in vision in one or both eyes?

Face: Ask the person to smile. Does the smile look even? Warning sign – One side of the face does not move as well as the other.

Arms: Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm drop down? Warning sign – One arm does not move, or one arm drifts.

Speech: Ask the person to repeat a simple sentence such as, “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks.” Does the person have trouble speaking or seem confused? Warning sign – The person slurs words or cannot speak.

Time: Call 911 immediately; time lost = brain lost. Let emergency responders know the last time you saw the person well. More advanced treatment options may be available if medical care is received within three hours of the start of symptoms.

Another symptom could be a sudden, very severe headache

Remembering these steps could save the life of someone you care about.

Adapted from Intermountain Healthcare. BE FAST was developed by Intermountain Healthcare, as an adaptation of the FAST model implemented by the American Stroke Association. Reproduced with permission from Intermountain Healthcare. Copyright 2011, Intermountain Healthcare.

Norton Brownsboro Hospital earned its Comprehensive Stroke Center designation by being a Primary Stroke Center first and then meeting extra requirements, including:

  • Advanced imaging tools
  • Blood clot (endovascular) stroke intervention
  • 24/7 availability of staff and specialized treatments
  • Additional staff education in care of complex stroke patients

“We’re proud of the world-class care we’re able to provide our stroke patients at Norton Brownsboro Hospital,” said Tom L. Yao, M.D., co-director of the stroke program at Norton Neuroscience Institute.

Being able to get the highest level of stroke care is important for the Greater Louisville area, which is in the “stroke belt” — a group of states in the southeastern U.S. with higher rates of stroke than the rest of the nation. Stroke is the fifth leading cause of death in the U.S.

Being close to a Comprehensive Stroke Center can be lifesaving.

“Comparing Comprehensive Stroke Centers with Primary Stroke Centers,” a study published in the Journal of the American Heart Association, found that people with hemorrhagic stroke (weak blood vessel rupture) who were treated at a comprehensive center were more likely to get the treatments they needed and to be alive at 90 days than patients who went to other hospitals.


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