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Dallas VA Medical Center Designated Level Two Stroke Center


February 3, 2016

Dallas , TX — With stroke, time lost is brain lost. Veterans are in good hands at Dallas VA Medical Center, a designated level two stroke center.

VA North Texas Health Care System's Dallas VA Medical Center has been designated a Limited Hours Stroke Facility, reflecting the organization's commitment to stroke education, quick treatment and quality outcomes.

There are four levels of stroke center designation. A limited hours stroke facility is second highest, carrying the larger responsibility of providing comprehensive, clinical care.

"With stroke, time lost is brain lost, and this designation demonstrates our commitment to ensuring Veterans receive care based on nationally-respected clinical guidelines," said Acting Deputy Chief of Staff Kara Prescott, M.D., VA North Texas Health Care System. "We are extremely proud of our stroke program and team of professionals who respond quickly and efficiently to stroke."

With stroke as the number five cause of death and a leading cause of adult disability in the U.S., the American Hospital Association predicts the prevalence of stroke will double by 2020 as the baby boomer generation ages. Male Veterans have an 81 percent greater risk of stroke than other men of similar age, health, race and socioeconomic status.

The multidisciplinary stroke team at VA North Texas includes nurses, physicians, neurologists, therapists and Emergency Department staff. Once a stroke has been diagnosed, the patient may be given tPA or the "clot busting" drug. This medication must be given within three hours from the start of stroke symptoms; however, the American Heart Association reports only 4 percent of stroke patients nationwide receive the recommended treatment in the key hours after stroke.

"We are very proud of our stroke program," said VA North Texas Interim Chief of Staff Jeffery L. Hastings, M.D. "Having a trained stroke response team ready to act allows us to rapidly identify and assess a Veteran's condition. It is not always possible to prevent a stroke, but with timely, evidence-based care, it is possible to prevent many of the complications of stroke."

Because stroke injures the brain, you may not realize you are having a stroke. To a bystander, someone having a stroke may look unaware or confused. The symptoms of stroke are distinct because they happen fast:

  • Sudden numbness or weakness of the face, arm or leg (especially on one side of the body)
  • Sudden confusion, trouble speaking or understanding speech
  • Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes
  • Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination
  • Sudden severe headache with no known cause

Stroke victims have the best chance if someone around them recognizes the symptoms and gets help quickly. VA North Texas recommends using FAST as an acronym to remember the sudden signs of stroke: Face drooping, Arm weakness, Speech difficulty, Time to call 9-1-1. 

"Within a few minutes of having a stroke, brain cells begin to die and symptoms emerge. It is important for everyone to recognize the symptoms because prompt treatment is crucial to recovery," said Prescott.

Much of stroke prevention is based on living a healthy lifestyle. This includes identifying and controlling blood pressure, not smoking, treating diabetes properly, and managing stress.

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