For Immediate Release February 22, 2022

La Plata mayor presents Stroke Smart proclamation

From left, UM Charles Regional Medical Center's Joe Stine, Tamika Sanders, Melissa Zalesak and Shellee Stine accept the 'Stroke Smart La Plata' proclamation Tuesday from La Plata Mayor Jeannine James. Council member Evalyne Bryant-Ward looks on.

LA PLATA, Md. - February 22, 2022 — When it comes to strokes, the clock is ticking. Recognizing stroke symptoms early and getting to the hospital quickly are critical to limiting brain damage and improving recovery.

That's why the University of Maryland Charles Regional Medical Center and the Town of La Plata have teamed up on an education campaign to help people recognize stroke symptoms fast. Stroke Smart La Plata is a community effort to increase stroke knowledge with a focus on prevention and early detection.

"We are very excited to become Maryland's first 'Stroke Smart' Town," said La Plata Mayor Jeannine James. "Partnering with UM Charles Regional Medical Center, we will promote this fantastic campaign by posting educational materials and other resources on our website as well as provide printed material at Town Hall. Our Town Council signed a proclamation in recognition of our new Stroke Smart Town and encourages all of our citizens to make every effort to learn how to Spot-a-Stroke, Stop-a-Stroke, and Save-a-Life."

A stroke is the death of cells due to a lack of oxygen caused by a blockage or rupture of an artery that reduces blood flow to the brain. This can result in a sudden loss of balance, vision issues, facial drooping, weakness and speech slurring. Recognizing those symptoms early and calling 911 immediately can be lifesaving.

"UM Charles Regional is designated as a Primary Stroke Center, which means we can treat some acute stroke patients with the clot busting medication Alteplase to help restore blood flow," said nurse Shellee Stine, BSN, RN, FNE A/P, SCRN, Clinical Programs Coordinator and Stroke Coordinator for Charles Regional. "For a patient to be considered for this medication, the arrival time to the hospital from symptom onset needs to be less than 4.5 hours, but the sooner the better."

By dissolving the clot, Alteplase, also known as tPA, can limit damage by reestablishing blood flow to oxygen-deprive brain cells, which can save a patient's life and improve recovery, as well as avert possible long-term disabilities.

To help people recognize the symptoms of a stroke, the hospital uses the BE FAST mnemonic: Balance, Eyes, Face, Arms, Speech and Time. If there is a sudden loss of balance or change in vision, drooping of the face or arm on one side, or speech is slurred, it's time to call 911 immediately, don't delay.

"According to the American Stroke Association, strokes are the third leading cause of death in Maryland and the fifth leading cause of death in the United States," Stine said.

As a Stroke Smart town, La Plata officials plan to participate in educating the public on recognizing the need to BE FAST when it comes to stroke detection in an effort to reduce deaths and severe long-term disability.

"Learning to BE FAST is a way for our residents to help improve community health outcomes and possibly save the life of a loved one," James said. "Let's all take the time to learn how to recognize stroke symptoms and get people to the hospital's stroke team as quickly as possible!"