Stroke is a Medical Emergency - "Time lost is brain lost"

Stroke is one of the leading causes of death and disability in the US. It deprives the brain of essential oxygen and nutrients. Stroke, also known as Cerebral Vascular Accident (CVA), is the result of a sudden reduction of blood flow to an area of the brain. When this happens, sensation, movement, and/or functions controlled by that area of the brain become impaired or lost. About 90 percent of strokes are ischemic infarctions (a sudden clot or build-up within the brain) and 10 percent are haemorrhagic (a rupture or breakage of a blood vessel within the brain). When ischemic stroke occurs, medication (tPA) given quickly can help the open blockage and preserve brain cells thereby reducing disability.

What are we measuring?

Activase (Alteplase) or Intravenous tPA is a medication that has been shown to improve neurological recovery and reduce the incidence of disability. Our goal is to administer this medication to a patient within three hours of the onset of symptoms. Not all patients are a candidate for this medication. This medication may be contraindicated in some patients.

The graph below shows the percentage of patients who arrived at JFK within 2 hours of the onset of their stroke symptoms and were treated with the medication tPA by hour 3. It also shows JFK’s performance compared with other Joint Commission (JC Comprehensive Stroke Centers) and all New Jersey (NJ) hospitals.

stroke 201612


What is our performance telling us?

For the year Q2 2015 to Q 4 2015, every patient (100%) presenting to JFK was treated within the 3 hour time frame.  During Q 1 2016, there was a drop to 93% of patients treated within the 3 hour time frame. To decrease the time it takes to treat a patient with tPA we focus on processes to prioritizing the stroke patient in the ED (Emergency Department) and direct transfer of the patient to the new CT (radiology imaging) scan bays located near the ED. These processes were developed to decrease the time to treatment with tPA.

The data in graph above shows us that for the past four quarters, JFK is treating more patients with t-PA within in the 3 hour time frame than both other certified JC Comprehensive Stroke Centers and all NJ hospitals. JFK has been able to accomplish this by developing systems and processes implemented by a highly trained multidisciplinary team. JFK Comprehensive Stroke Center has an expert team of physicians, nurses, and technicians who work to assess every stroke patient and deliver tPA within the 3 hour time frame.

Our goal at JFK Medical Center is to administer t-PA to every stroke patient (100%) who is a candidate within 3 hours. We continue to evaluate our performance and remain intent on reaching this goal.

What can you do to minimize the effects of a stroke?

The first step is to learn and recognize these stroke symptoms:

  • 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

The second step is to call 9-1-1 immediately and get transported by EMS to the nearest designated stroke center for rapid evaluation and emergency treatment.

The good news is that 80% of stroke can be prevented by learning the stroke risk factors and modifying your personal stroke risk factors.

For additional stroke information on the award winning JFK Advanced Comprehensive Stroke center click this link: