Mississippi has the fifth highest rate of stroke deaths in the nation – more than 23 percent above the national average. MPB’s Evelina Burnett reports, a new statewide system is intended to more quickly get people who have a stroke the care they need.
It’s called a “system of care,” and it lays out the protocols and processes hospitals and first responders should use when they have a patient they suspect has had a stroke.
Dr. Lee Voulters, medical director of the Stroke program at Memorial Hospital in Gulfport, says stroke is the fifth leading cause of death in Mississippi and a leading cause of disability.
“The importance of this statewide system is to as best we can, treat any patient in Mississippi that suffers a stroke, and get them into the appropriate system, get them the best level of care for their stroke, as quickly and as appropriately as possible," he says.
Mississippi has similar systems of care in place for trauma and for a dangerous type of heart attack called an ST-Elevation Myocardial Infarction, or STEMI. Dee Howard is with the Mississippi Healthcare Alliance.
“We know that through rapid recognition, identification of patients, and risk stratification of what type of therapy that type of patient should receive, we can improve outcomes,” she says.
For example, Howard says, in the three years the STEMI system of care has been in place, it's helped reduce the death rate of STEMI heart attacks to below the national average.
“Heart attack and stroke are both time sensitive issues," Howard says. "When patients suffer those symptoms, they need to call 9-1-1 immediately so they can get to the hospital and receive appropriate care.”
More information on recognizing signs of stroke and heart attack can be found on the health departments website, www.healthyms.com.