Winter 2007
Winter 2007
  • Bridgeport Hospital Named One of Nation's Cardiovascular Hospitals?Again!
  • Stroke? Think FAST!

    Bridgeport Hospital Named One of Nation's Cardiovascular Hospitals?Again!

    Bridgeport Hospital has been named one of Americas 100 Top Cardiovascular Hospitals by Solucient, an independent healthcare rating organization. We are the only hospital in Connecticut to make the Top 100 list in 2005 and 2006.

    Solucient analyzed Americas top-performing hospitals and identified 100 across the country (among them The Mayo Clinic Hospital, Massachusetts General and Bridgeport Hospital) that are setting benchmark levels of performance for cardiovascular services.

    This award is further evidence of the high quality of care provided in the Heart Institute at Bridgeport Hospital.

    Stroke? Think FAST!

    If a friend or relative were having a stroke, what would you do? Call 9—1—1, of course. But what if you weren't sure it was a stroke? And what if the victim told you, "Don't worry, I've had this beforeI'll be fine in a minutelet's wait until my doctor calls back before we go to the emergency department. After all, what if it turns out to be nothing to worry about?" What would you do then? Think FAST—your response could save your friend's life!

    FAST is an acronym to help you remember the most common signs of a stroke.

    F: FACE—numbness or weakness especially on one side of the face.
    A: ARM—numbness or weakness especially in one arm or one side of the body.
    S: SPEECH—slurred speech or difficulty speaking or understanding.
    T: TIME—to immediately call 911 and note the time symptoms started or the last time your friend seemed to be feeling normal.

    Other symptoms include a sudden severe headache with no known cause, sudden difficulty seeing with one or both eyes, and sudden dizziness or loss of balance. Remembering FAST can help you understand when it really is a stroke.

    So What Is a Stroke?

    "A stroke, sometimes called a brain attack,' occurs when the flow of blood to a portion of the brain is blocked by a blood clot (ischemic stroke, the most common form), or the blood vessel bursts (hemorrhagic stroke)," explains emergency medicine physician Jonathan Maisel, MD, Co—Director of the Stroke Center at Bridgeport Hospital. A brain scan must be performed to determine which type of stroke a person is experiencing.

    What's the Hurry?

    Stroke is the third leading cause of death in the US. It's as serious as a heart attack. Yet unfortunately, according to the American Stroke Association, the average stroke patient waits more than 12 hours before going to the emergency departmentwhich means that many of them die before they can be helped. The frustrating thing is that for victims of ischemic stroke, reaching the hospital within three hours of the first symptom can improve the chance of a full recovery by as much as 33 percent. This is because the powerful drug tPA(tissue plasminogen activator), when given within three hours, can stop ischemic stroke, save lives and preserve mental function.

    Bottom line: When it comes to stroke, time is brain so the sooner your friend gets to the emergency department, the better! The best thing to do is have him/her taken to a Stroke Center like Bridgeport Hospital for rapid diagnosis and prompt life—saving treatment.

    Risk Factors for Stroke

    "To reduce your chances of having a stroke, modify as many of your risk factors as possible," says neurologist Philip Barasch, MD, Co—Director of the Stroke Center at Bridgeport Hospital. The major risk factors are listed below.

    High blood pressure: This is the most important risk factor for stroke. Have your pressure checked regularly and follow your physician's advice for treatment.

    Smoking: Smoking increases your risk. Smoking combined with the use of contraceptive pills greatly increases stroke risk in women.

    Diabetes Mellitus: Careful management is critical.

    Carotid or other artery disease: If you have been diagnosed with carotid stenosis or peripheral artery disease, you are at greater risk.

    Atrial fibrillation: This heart rhythm disorder, in which the upper heart chambers quiver instead of beating in an orderly way, is associated with increased risk for stroke.

    Heart disease or heart attack: People with coronary artery disease or heart failure have more than twice the risk of stroke. Other problems, such as heart valve disease and some congenital heart defects, raise stroke risk as well.

    TIA (Transient Ischemic Attack): TIAs are called "little strokes" or "mini—strokes" because they produce stroke—like symptoms that go away and leave no lasting damage. About half of the people who have a TIA will have a stroke within one year.

    Age: Your risk doubles after age 55.

    Heredity and race: If you have a blood relative who has had a stroke and/or if you are African American, you are at a greater risk.

    Gender: More men have strokes than women, but more women die of stroke. Birth control pills and pregnancy pose special stroke risks for women.

    Other risk factors: Sickle cell disease, blood cholesterol levels over 200, physical inactivity, obesity and excessive alcohol.

    Paying attention to signs and symptoms and seeking medical help at the first signs of a stroke can mean the difference between a full recovery and serious loss of functioneven death. So when it comes to stroke, think FAST!

    The Stroke Center at Bridgeport Hospital

    At Bridgeport Hospital's Stroke Center, timeliness is the key to success. "We supervise and manage all aspects of every stroke victim's care, from the moment they call 911 to their discharge from the hospital to their home or rehabilitation center," says Stroke Center Coordinator Cathy Wright, RN, MS, CCRN. Expert teams of hospital staff members are available 24/7 to care for any patient with a stroke.

    A Heart—Healthy Treat for Your Valentine! Strawberries Dipped in Chocolate

    Eating chocolate with a minimum content of 70% chocolate solids has been shown to lower blood pressure (Journal of the American Medical Association, Aug. 27, 2006).

    • 8 large fresh strawberries, with stems left intact
    • 2 ounces of dark semisweet or bittersweet chocolate
    • 1/2 tablespoon milk or cream (high in saturated fat, but each dipped strawberry will not contain a lot)
    • Dash of almond extract, brandy, your favorite liqueur or prepared coffee


    Wash the strawberries and pat dry with paper towels; set aside. Strawberries must be fresh, room—temperature and completely dry.

    Line a baking sheet or cookie pan with waxed paper. Put chocolate in a microwave bowl. Heat on medium heat (3050% power). Stir every 15 seconds, hea