Wednesday, May 17, 2017 - STPH and Ochsner Partner on Stroke Prevention and Treatment

St. Tammany Parish Hospital and Ochsner Partner on Stroke Prevention and Treatment

COVINGTON – According to the American Stroke Association, someone in the United States has a stroke every 40 seconds. That translates into nearly 800,000 people each year. In addition, every four minutes, someone dies of stroke.

Getting that message out has been a primary focus this month as May is designated as Stroke Awareness Month. Continued education on warning signs of symptoms is vital to prevention of one of the leading causes of death and disability in the United States.

Dr. Joseph Tarsia, Vascular Neurology, Ochsner Comprehensive Stroke Center, Ochsner Health System, says the simplest way to help prevent stroke is to take care of yourself and maintain a healthy lifestyle by eating well and exercising daily. “Patients need to control the diseases that make them more likely to have a stroke, like hypertension or high blood pressure, diabetes and high cholesterol,” says Dr. Tarsia. “It is also extremely important to also avoid smoking, drinking in excess and using illicit drugs.”

A stroke occurs when a blood vessel in the brain "clogs" up, depriving brain tissue of blood and nutrients it needs. The result is that thousands of brain cells begin to die almost immediately and that affects motor skills, coordination, speech and comprehension. It is extremely important that someone who is showing signs of stroke remembers the acronym F.A.S.T. to lower the risk of death or disability:

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

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.

For those individuals suffering from a stroke, St. Tammany Parish Hospital (STPH) and Ochsner Health System have partnered on a unique Telestroke Program, which joins experts from both facilities to consult immediately with Ochsner vascular neurologists 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year, using telemedicine equipment to determine the best treatment options for stroke patients.

Since this partnership began in 2011, more than 860 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 this partnership, Ochsner’s Telestroke neurologists are able to see patients as they arrive at STPH, and they are able 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. With the Telestroke process, quick identification and taking steps down this pathway very early is critical for the good outcomes this procedure can provide,” says Dr. Tarsia.

In January 2017, STPH and Ochsner recently opened the Ochsner Neuroscience Institute – North Shore, which offers both inpatient and outpatient care.        

On a national level, CareChex ranks Ochsner as number 11 for neurological care. Ochsner is also the only program in Louisiana listed in the U.S. News & World Report Best Hospitals ranking across three specialty categories, where it is number 23 in the nation for neurology and neurosurgery.

To learn more about the services offered at the Ochsner Neuroscience Institute on the North Shore, please call 985-246-2800.

St. Tammany Parish Hospital earned Advanced Certification for Primary Stroke Center from the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association in 2015. STPH has also been awarded five-stars for the treatment of stroke by Healthgrades. Learn more at


About STPH

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 29 owned, managed and affiliated hospitals and more than 75 health centers. Ochsner is the only Louisiana hospital recognized by U.S. News & World Report as a “Best Hospital” across three specialty categories caring for patients from all 50 states and more than 80 countries worldwide each year. Ochsner employs more than 17,000 employees and over 1100 physicians in over 90 medical specialties and subspecialties, and conducts more than 600 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.