Tuesday, May 01, 2018 - STPH and Ochsner Partner on Stroke Prevention



St. Tammany Parish Hospital and Ochsner

Partner on Stroke Prevention and Treatment

– Every four minutes someone in the United States dies of stroke, according to the American Stroke Association. An American has a stroke every 40 seconds, which translates into nearly 800,000 per year.

Throughout the month of May, St. Tammany Parish Hospital and Ochsner are using Stroke Awareness Month to teach signs and symptoms and help prevent this leading cause of death and disability.

Dr. Joseph Tarsia, vascular neurology, Ochsner Comprehensive Stroke Center, says the simplest way to help prevent a stroke is to eat well and exercise daily.

“Patients need to control the diseases that make them more likely to have a stroke, like high blood pressure, diabetes and high cholesterol,” explains Dr. Tarsia. “It is also extremely important to avoid smoking, drinking in excess and using illicit drugs.”

A stroke occurs when a blood vessel in the brain "clogs,” depriving brain tissue of blood and nutrients. As a result, thousands of brain cells almost immediately begin to die, affecting motor skills, coordination, speech and comprehension.

Everyone should learn the acronym F.A.S.T. to lower the risk of death or disability from stroke:

  • F is for face – is the face drooping?
  • A is for arms – can the person lift both arms?
  • S is for speech – are they slurring words?
  • T is for time - call 9-1-1 immediately because with a stroke, time is brain.

Specifically, symptoms include sudden onset weakness and/or numbness in one side of the body, difficulty speaking or comprehending others, slurred speech, facial droop, difficulty with vision, imbalance or severe headache.

STPH and Ochsner partner in Telestroke, a unique program that joins experts from both facilities to consult immediately with Ochsner vascular neurologists 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. Telemedicine equipment provides this opportunity to determine the best treatment options for stroke patients. The Ochsner Telestroke Program includes more than 58 participating hospitals throughout Louisiana and Mississippi.

Since the Telestroke partnership began in 2011, more than 1,125 STPH patients have been treated via this technology. Treatment for stroke symptoms is often a race against the clock. The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke found that stroke patients who received tissue plasminogen activator (t-PA) within three hours of the beginning of stroke symptoms were more likely to recover from their stroke with little or no disability. Because of the partnership, Ochsner’s Telestroke neurologists are able to see patients as they arrive in the STPH emergency department at the main campus in Covington and at the new location in Mandeville, allowing them to evaluate and prescribe t-PA treatment more quickly. This timeliness has resulted in a Telestroke t-PA utilization rate more than four times the national average and a reduced complication rate.

"In addition to tPA, this program has allowed us to immediately identity candidates who can be treated with a minimally invasive procedure called clot thrombectomy, allowing a trained specialist to remove the clot directly. This procedure has been showed to make a marked recovery in the most severely disabling types of stroke. New evidence shows that treating individuals within 24 hours from the onset of their symptoms still have an increased opportunity for improvement. With the Telestroke process, quick identification and taking steps down this pathway very early are critical for the good outcomes this procedure can provide,” says Dr. Tarsia.

“When minutes count, we have an accredited primary stroke program with the ability to care for the majority of our stroke patients here at St. Tammany,” said David Toups MD, emergency medicine specialist at St. Tammany Parish Hospital. “When the select patient requires the advanced capability of clot retrieval, they are able to benefit from the seamless transfer to our partner Ochsner on Jefferson Highway where the interventional neurologists have performed the large numbers of cases needed to maintain their expertise.”

In addition to Telestroke, STPH and Ochsner have made significant investments to expand local capabilities for neurosciences services since their partnership formed in 2014. This includes a neurosciences clinic, a large operating suite and a new inpatient unit with a four-bed neuro critical care unit and a 10-bed neuro medical surgical care unit, located at STPH and staffed by Ochsner neurologists and neurosurgeons.

Ochsner is the only program in Louisiana listed in the U.S. News & World Report Best Hospitals ranking across four specialty categories, where it is number 24 in the nation for neurology and neurosurgery.

STPH is a certified primary stroke center recognized nationally by Joint Commission, American Heart Association, Women’s Choice and Care Chex specifically for stroke care.

To learn more about your stroke risk, take our stroke risk assessment today. 



About St. Tammany Parish Hospital

A full-service acute care facility committed to providing world-class healthcare and the latest technology, St. Tammany Parish Hospital delivers today’s life-improving procedures with the utmost care to area residents with emphasis on wellness, preventive care and disease management close to home. STPH is recognized for quality, safety and the patient experience by Leapfrog, Hospital Compare, Healthgrades, CareChex and Women’s Choice. STPH is a self-supporting not-for-profit community hospital; it receives no ad valorem tax funding. Learn more at

About Ochsner Health System

Ochsner Health System is Louisiana’s largest non-profit, academic, healthcare system. Driven by a mission to Serve, Heal, Lead, Educate and Innovate, coordinated clinical and hospital patient care is provided across the region by Ochsner's 30 owned, managed and affiliated hospitals and more than 80 health centers and urgent care centers. Ochsner is the only Louisiana hospital recognized by U.S. News & World Report as a “Best Hospital” across four specialty categories caring for patients from all 50 states and more than 60 countries worldwide each year. Ochsner employs more than 18,000 employees and over 1,200 physicians in over 90 medical specialties and subspecialties, and conducts more than 700 clinical research studies. Ochsner Health System is proud to be a tobacco-free environment. For more information, please visit and follow us on Twitter and Facebook.