Siloam Springs Regional Hospital has joined with the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) to provide emergency care for stroke patients in the region.
Called AR SAVES (Arkansas Stroke Assistance through Virtual Emergency Support), the program uses a high-speed video communications system to help provide immediate, life-saving treatments to stroke patients 24 hours a day. The real-time video communication enables a stroke neurologist to evaluate whether emergency room physicians should use a powerful blood-clot dissolving agent within the critical three-hour period following the first signs of stroke.
The AR SAVES program is a cooperative between the UAMS Center for Distance Health, the state Department of Human Services, Siloam Springs Regional Hospital and 48 other Arkansas hospitals.
Arkansas, which ranks first in the nation in stroke death rates, had 1,560 stroke-related deaths in 2011, according to the national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The nationwide direct and indirect cost of medical and institutional care of permanently disabled stroke victims was $73.7 billion in 2010, according to the American Heart Association’s 2012 Heart Disease and Stroke Statistics.
Officials with the program say it’s important the public be aware of the signs and symptoms of a stroke, such as facial drooping or an uneven smile, arm numbness or weakness, and slurred speech or difficulty speaking or understanding speech. To remember them and the importance of getting to a hospital immediately, think FAST — Face, Arm, Speech and Time.
Since the program began Nov. 1, 2008, more than 2,791 patients have received stroke consults through AR SAVES and 751 patients have received the blood-clot dissolving agent.