BRISTOL, Tenn. - Bristol Regional Medical Center was honored Thursday by the American Heart Association with the Gold Plus award for stroke care.
That means BRMC has met national standards for treating stroke victims for two consecutive years.
However, the hospital is just one part of treating a stroke, and preventing permanent brain damage.
In simple terms, a stroke happens when blood flow is restricted to a part of the brain, which can lead to parts of the brain wither and die.
Doctors say speed in treatment is key.
"We have a time problem. We have to treat [patients] within 3 hours, preferably, " said Dr. Earl Wilson, a neurologist and medical director of Bristol Regional Medical Center's Primary Stroke Center.
Treatment in that 180 minute window often starts with emergency workers.
" The quicker you can start the advanced medical treatment out in the field,the better off the patient is,"said Bristol, Tenn. assistant fire chief Jack Spurgeon.
Knowing the symptoms of a stroke can help patients before they get to the hospital.
Medical professionals stress being F.A.S.T., a simple acronym that can help diagnose a stroke at home and stands for Face, Arms, Speech and Time.
"When someone has a change in their situation, then that's when you do those FAST things. When you ask them to smile, ask them to hold their arms up and you ask them to repeat something, and if something isn't right with that, then you need medical help,"said Dr. Wilson.
"just as soon as these symptoms started coming on, I knew to just go straight [to the hospital],"said Eddie Necessary. He had a stroke just after midnight Thursday.
" I started having trouble talking. Wasn't saying what I wanted to say. My words weren't coming out right," said Necessary.
Eddie was being treated 10 minutes after he arrived at Bristol Regional Medical Center. He had his blood drawn, had a CAT scan, and was treated with tissue plasminogen activator, a drug designed to bust blood clots.
"That medicine has the ability to dissolve a clot and improve circulation to the injured part of the brain, and can sometimes completely stop the stroke and sometimes make it a whole lot milder in the deficits it causes," said Dr. Wilson
This was Eddie's third stroke in five years and he's expected to make a full recovery. He's a great example of just how important a quick reaction can be in treating a stroke.
He was speaking to News 5 less than 11 hours after being admitted to the hospital.