Lynn Toth, RN, MSN, NP-C, a cardiovascular medical specialist at Beebe Healthcare, is one of five authors of a peer-reviewed article on stroke research that will appear in the August 2014 issue of Journal of Neuroscience Nursing.
The article, Steps Against Recurrent Stroke Plus: Patient Transition Program, discusses the conclusions of a 12-month study in 2009 to determine whether a post-stroke program of patient education and scheduled self-reported health assessments could affect future rehospitalization rates. The lead author is Miranda Bretz, MA, of the National Stroke Association.
“We were one of 12 hospitals to collaborate in this study with the National Stroke Association,” Toth explains. “We wanted to determine if education and follow-up monitoring can improve the quality of life of our stroke patients and help them to prevent future strokes.”
The significance of the study is that it is among the first to try to quantify the benefit of patient education in preventing future ischemic strokes, said Toth, who predicts that other studies will follow.
People who experience an ischemic stroke, which is caused by a lack of blood flow to certain parts of the brain, are at risk for another stroke, according to the National Stroke Association. Between 5 percent and 14 percent of people who have suffered an ischemic stroke will have another within one year. After five years, 24 percent of women and 42 percent of men will suffer another stroke.
Stroke is the fourth leading cause of death in the United States and is a major cause of adult disability, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“We believe the key to lowering the risk for another stroke is a change in lifestyle,” Toth said. “Our goal is to educate our patients and to help them successfully transition from their hospital stay to a healthier life.”
Patients who had experienced ischemic strokes at each of the 12 participating hospitals were asked if they would like to volunteer to be part of the STARS-Plus Patient Transition Program. Participation required sharing certain personal health information with study staff at specific time intervals throughout the year following the stroke.
Beebe Healthcare is certified as an Advanced Primary Stroke Center, which means that it is ready and able to treat patients with stroke 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Emergency care within the first three hours of a stroke can mean the difference between life and death, full recovery or permanent disability for stroke victims. Beebe has implemented quality care measures for optimal outcomes. Those include aggressive use of medications, such as the clot-busting medication tissue plasminogen activator, as well as the use of antithrombotics, anticoagulation therapy, deep vein thrombosis prophylaxis and cholesterol-reducing drugs.
Beebe also offers a patient education program that includes information about stroke, the treatment provided and the importance of lifestyle changes such as smoking cessation.
Beebe also has instituted a Rapid Response Team, which is made up of medical specialists and is available around the clock in the event of a medical emergency. Beebe’s Stroke Program includes an educational component assuring that all hospital employees are trained to recognize the signs of stroke and know what action they must take if someone is presenting symptoms. The multidisciplinary team takes part in regular stroke patient rounding within the hospital. Specialized nurses provide outreach education within the community.
“We were proud to be a part of the National Stroke Association study,” said Lynn Amey, RN, executive director of cardiac and vascular services at Beebe Healthcare. “Stroke is a serious and all-too-common problem, and we not only must be prepared to recognize and treat stroke sufferers in a quick and efficient manner, but we must educate people so as to lower their risk of stroke in the future.”
For more information about Beebe Healthcare go to www.beebehealthcare.org.