Health Secondary Story

The Golden Hour

By Dr. Richard Tovar, BDCH Emergency Department Medical Director

Health care professionals often refer to the time immediately following the onset of heart attack, stroke or traumatic injuries as “The Golden Hour.”

The Golden Hour is absolutely critical to patients’ chances at recovery and survival, and health care providers who work in emergency departments everywhere see firsthand the positive difference that timely treatment makes.

This is why it is important to our region to have an advanced state-of-the-art emergency department like Beaver Dam Community Hospital’s that our residents can depend on during times of emergency.

Heart Attack – Time is Muscle

The phrase “Time is Muscle” refers to heart attack, as heart muscle begins to die within a few minutes of the onset of symptoms. Most deaths attributed to heart attacks occur during The Golden Hour and more heart muscle is lost with each passing minute, making prompt medical attention critical.

If you suspect you are having a heart attack, call 911 immediately. The immediate goal of treatment is to restore blood flow through the heart and to save heart tissue in order to prevent death, relieve pain and preserve heart muscle function.

Symptoms of a heart attack include

  • Chest, Shoulder and/or Neck Pain
  • Upper Body and/or Stomach Pain
  • Shortness of Breath
  • Anxiety
  • Lightheadedness
  • Sweating
  • Nausea and Vomiting

Stroke – Time is Brain

Nearly 800,000 Americans suffer strokes each year. “Time is Brain” is a reminder that two million brain cells die each minute during stroke, and any delay in treatment increases the risk of permanent brain damage, disability or death. Since stroke is an emergency attack on the brain, cutting off vital blood flow (embolic) and oxygen or a blood vessel bleeding in the brain, recognizing symptoms and acting quickly can be the difference between life and death or recovery and disability.

At Beaver Dam Community Hospital, its involvement in the Telestroke Network through an advanced video system allows stroke patients to be seen immediately by world-class neurologists at the UW Comprehensive Stroke Center in Madison. This allows patients to receive vital quality care quickly, saving valuable brain tissue and improving chances of survival and recovery.

This is especially the case with the powerful clot-busting drug tPA, which in most cases of embolic stroke should be administered within three hours of the onset of clearly defined stroke symptoms. If initial care is delayed, tPA may not be an option for stroke patients, which could decrease the chances of survival or full recovery.

One convenient way to remember stroke warning signs is through the acronym FAST.

  • F – (FACE) Look at the person’s face and ask them to smile. Does one side of the face droop?
  • A – (ARMS) Ask the person to lift both arms. Does one arm drift downward?
  • S – (SPEECH) Ask the person to speak a simple phrase. Is the speech slurred or strange?
  • T – (TIME) Time is of the essence. If you recognize any of the above stroke warning signs, call 911 immediately.

Traumatic Injury

For other traumatic injuries, The Golden Hour speaks to the fact that immediate treatment optimizes the odds of survival and prevents irreversible internal damage. According to West Virginia University, patients suffering traumatic injuries treated within the first hour of injury have a mortality rate of 10 percent. That rate jumps to 75 percent if treatment occurs within the first eight hours.

Serious emergent conditions such as heart attack and stroke dictate that patients seek the closest medical care possible. This is why Beaver Dam Community Hospital is committed to providing its region with an emergency department with state-of-the-art technology and skilled physicians and providers, because living in a smaller community shouldn’t mean settling for anything less than high-quality care and the utmost in safety.

Although you may not have a choice in an emergency, patients are still encouraged to take a proactive role in their daily health care. This means asking your doctors and providers questions, taking a look at each hospital’s quality and safety measures and deciding what is best for you and your family.

Dr. Richard Tovar is the Emergency Department Medical Director of Beaver Dam Community Hospital. For more information, call (920) 887-7181.

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