LIVINGSTON, NJRWJBarnabas Health urges its patients to “act F.A.S.T.” when stroke strikes by learning the signs and symptoms of a stroke and provides information on increases access to care for after diagnosis and treatment.

According to the health professionals at RWJBarnabas, approximately 800,000 people suffer each year from stroke, which is the fifth-leading cause of death, and is a leading cause of disability in the United States. Despite these alarming numbers, the vast majority of Americans are unable to identify the signs of a stroke, according to the health center. 

Stroke is considered a medical emergency, but when recognized and treated immediately, it is treatable. According to RWJBarnabas, some of the most common signs include sudden weakness or numbness of the leg, arm, face or side of the body; difficulty seeing in one or both eyes; sudden dizziness or loss of balance; sudden intense headache; or difficulty speaking or sudden memory loss.

Sign Up for E-News

RWJBarnabas urges people to remember the sudden signs and symptoms of stroke by referring to the acronym “F.A.S.T.”

Face: Ask the person to smile. Does one side of the face droop?

Arm: Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm drift downward?

Speech: Ask the person to repeat a simple sentence. Can he/she correctly repeat the sentence? Does the speech sound garbled or slurred?

Time: If the answer to any of the above is yes, call 911 immediately to get the person to the emergency room quickly. Stroke patients only have a four and a half hour window from onset of symptoms to be treated.  Be sure to check the time so you can tell the doctor when you first noticed the symptoms, as this information will affect treatment decisions.

In addition, RWJBarnabas Health encourages people to understand and manage the many health and lifestyle factors that can decrease the risk of stroke. To decrease risk, RWJBaranas suggests the following: don’t smoke; manage alcohol intake; manage and monitor your blood pressure and cholesterol; exercise regularly; and maintain a healthy diet.

RWJBarnabas Health’s Comprehensive and Primary Stroke Centers offer rapid diagnosis, advanced treatment options and personalized rehabilitation services at all of its facilities throughout the state, from Hudson to Ocean counties.

New technologies for rapid stroke diagnosis, include TeleStroke services which are available at several ofRWJBarnabas Health’s facilities including Jersey City Medical Center, RWJUH-Somerset, RWJUH-Hamilton, RWJUH-Rahway and Monmouth Medical Center in Long Branch. TeleStroke utilizes a teleneurology service that connects patients in need with neurologists from off-site locations enabling them to receive faster results and the highest quality treatment resulting in more comprehensive care and better patient outcomes.

At Jersey City Medical Center, TeleStroke is the first telemedicine program for the hospital. Since launching in December the TeleStroke Program has attracted patients from not just Hudson County but throughout the state.

“Our TeleStroke Program gives patients in an emergency state immediate access to the nation’s leading neurology physicians through the RWJBarnabas Health System,” said Douglas Ratner, MD, Chair of Medicine for Jersey City Medical Center. “When it comes to stroke, every second counts so our biggest battle can be time. The faster we can diagnosis the problem and identify the best treatment course the better chance a patient has of a full recovery or limited permanent damage. The TeleStroke program provides us with instant access to specialists and immediate treatment recommendations to improve overall patient outcomes.”

In addition, Saint Barnabas Medical Center in Livingston recently announced that it is the first and only hospital in the state to offer a new, state-of-the-art 256-slice CT scanner in its Emergency Department, which can scan an entire organ in less than one second providing faster and more efficient scanning to support rapid diagnosis and treatment of patients experiencing symptoms of stroke.

The Comprehensive Stroke Center at RWJUH New Brunswick is staffed 24 hours per day, seven days per week by the Code Stroke Response Team to quickly diagnose and treat strokes no matter the time of day. RWJUH New Brunswick is also accredited by The Joint Commission, the American Heart Association and American Stroke Association for meeting The Joint Commission’s standards for Disease-Specific Care Comprehensive Stroke Center Certification.

All RWJBarnabas Health hospitals are designated stroke centers offering advanced rapid diagnosis and treatment.

Time is essential in treating a stroke, according to the hospital. The greatest chance of recovery happens when treatment is started immediately. Those who are experiencing or know someone experiencing symptoms should call 9-1-1 and urge them to get to the nearest hospital immediately.

For a referral to a neurologist at RWJBarnabas Health, call the Physician Referral Line at 1-888-724-7123.