American Heart Association’s Get With The Guidelines® Stroke

A stroke is a type of disease that affects the blood vessels leading to and within the brain. A stroke occurs when the blood supply to the brain is interrupted due to a clot or leakage of a blood vessel into the brain. When this happens, brain cells begin to die. Treating stroke quickly and effectively is the difference between ability and disability or even life and death. The first step in this process is to be taken to a hospital that is experienced and fully equipped to provide an accurate diagnosis and rapid treatment. Your brain is your body’s most vital and delicate organ. Immediate response is crucial, because every minute lost, from the onset of symptoms to the time of emergency contact, cuts into the limited window of opportunity for intervention.

The most common stroke symptoms are:

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

If you see someone having these symptoms or experience any of these symptoms yourself, call 911 immediately. Treatment can be more effective if given quickly. Every minute counts. These common symptoms of stroke can be remembered by the acronym FAST. If you think someone may be having a stroke, act FAST and do this simple test:

F = Face: Ask the person to smile. Is one side of the face drooping down?
A = Arms: Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm drift downward?
S = Speech: Ask the person to repeat a simple sentence. Are the words slurred? Can he/she repeat the sentence correctly?
T = Time: If the person shows any sign of these symptoms, time is important. Call 911 or get to a hospital fast. Brain cells are dying.

CHS is committed to optimizing the care of stroke patients through the implementation of evidence-based clinical practice guidelines. To sustain continuous improvement and monitor performance, our hospitals participate in the American Heart Association's Get With the Guidelines® program, which ensures stroke patients are treated appropriately from admission to discharge. Appropriate recommended care for stroke patients includes timely administration of specific medications, advising smokers to quit and giving written instructions and education upon discharge from the hospital. The performance measures that have been implemented and monitored include:

  • Timely administration of intravenous tissue plasminogen activator (IV t-PA) "clot-busting" medication
  • Early administration of antithrombotic therapy to help prevent blood clots and to reduce the risk of early recurrent stroke
  • Early administration of deep vein thrombosis (DVT) therapy to help reduce the risk of developing blood clots in the legs
  • Prescribing antithrombotic therapy at discharge to help lower the risk of future strokes
  • Prescribing anticoagulation therapy at discharge for patients with an irregular heart rate (atrial fibrillation or AF) to help lower the risk of blood clotting
  • Prescribing cholesterol-reducing medication at discharge to help lower low-density lipoprotein (LDL) to less than 100
  • Provide advice and/or counseling to stop smoking
  • Perform a swallow or dysphagia screen before patient is given any food, fluids or medication by mouth
  • Provide stroke education or education materials prior to discharge
  • Assess the need for rehabilitation services

The following charts represent CHS composite scores for the Stroke condition. A composite score is an individual score that represents a hospital’s overall performance for the specified condition. It is calculated by adding together the results of all of the performance measures within the specified condition. Higher scores represent better performance.


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