NASHVILLE, TN (WJHL) – Experts say stroke is the fifth leading cause of death in Tennessee and they say it’s the leading cause of acquired adult disability.
Last year, the General Assembly approved forming a task force, legislation co-sponsored by Senator Rusty Crowe (R-Johnson City), to address the high occurrences of strokes.
Earlier this week, lawmakers heard from the Stroke Registry Task Force on how to ensure the rapid identification, diagnosis, and treatment of strokes.
Senator Crowe says he hosted country music star Randy Travis and his wife Mary in a special meeting with the Senate Health and Welfare Committee, which he chairs.
Randy Travis suffered a massive stroke in 2013. The country music star was given only a one to two percent chance of survival.
“Tennessee needs a robust stroke system of care in place to treat these patients that starts at the community level with stroke risk factor recognition by our citizens and appropriate management,” said Dr. Brian Wiseman, a physician at the University of Tennessee Medical Center who chairs the task force. “It also means that EMS (emergency medical services) need standardized protocols working with a network of stroke center hospitals that can deliver the most appropriate timely treatment for the best possible outcome of these patients. It also means post-acute care and rehabilitation.”
The task force’s recommendations include:
- A Stroke Advisory Task Force made up of experts and key stakeholders to develop and recommend rules and regulations and report to health care facilities and emergency medical services boards to improve health outcomes;
- Mandatory submission of data to the Stroke Registry housed at East Tennessee State University’s (ETSU) College of Public Health to further analyze the disease and best practices of care;
- State-sanctioned designation of stroke centers denoting their readiness to accept and treat acute care patients, including a level one algorithm for comprehensive stroke centers, level two for primary stroke centers and level 3 for acute stroke-ready hospitals; and
- Standardized destination guidelines for EMS personnel when transporting and identifying stroke patients in the field.
According to the task force, the standardized guidelines for EMS providers will help ensure that acute stroke patients are transported to centers that have endovascular clot retrieval capability. That approach, according to experts, has proven to be the most effective in treating patients with ischemic strokes caused by an emergent large vessel occlusion (ELVO).
Currently, Tennessee has 34 stroke centers, including six comprehensive stroke centers, 27 primary stroke centers and one acute stroke-ready hospital.
Randy and Mary Travis spoke about the need for stroke awareness and expedient care.
See also: Randy Travis speaks in front of senate committee to raise awareness about strokes
“Expediting care is a vital aspect to caring for stroke patients and preventing permanent damage,” said Mrs. Travis. “Randy stared death in the face and death blinked. That’s why we are here today.”
“I am very proud with the work Randy and his wife Mary Travis are doing as ambassadors for stroke prevention. Randy Travis has spent his life spreading love through his music and now he has dedicated his life to helping others understand stroke prevention and response,” said Senator Crowe. “Hopefully his recovery experience and the work he and his wife Mary are doing will be remembered and have an impact that will last like one of his most outstanding favorite songs ‘Forever and Ever Amen.’”