NARH now using "Telemedicine" to connect with stroke neurologists

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North Adams - North Adams Regional Hospital is now using state-of-the-art "Telemedicine" to treat potential stroke patients, linking physicians at NARH's Emergency Center with stroke neurologists at Massachusetts General Hospital. The system employs real-time video and audio connections between NARH and MGH, and has been used twice in the last month. NARH, designated as a stroke treatment center by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, invested in the telemedicine system as part of a joint venture with MGH to bring the expertise of specialists from Boston or outside the region to patients at NARH. The telemedicine service uses the internet to transmit high-quality streaming video and audio across the state, allowing physicians in Boston and other venues to view and interact with the patient in the emergency department, and to review diagnostic images such as CT scans and MRI films. The system uses an arrangement of two video monitors, a laptop computer and a remote-control video camera at each end of the connection. Doctors in Boston are able to control the video camera in North Adams remotely, and vice versa. The video monitors display images from the video cameras - one view from NARH and one from MGH. Diagnostic images are displayed on the laptop computer. The cost of buying and using the system is supported in part through the EXCEL Annual Appeal, which raises funds for equipment purchases each year. This year's Northern Berkshire Healthcare golf tournament on June 17, sponsored by Williamstown Savings Bank, will raise additional funds to support the stroke treatment program. Additionally, NARH will engage in an on-going community education effort to raise awareness of stroke symptoms and emergency treatment. The following information about stroke and the use of tPA is from the American Heart Association (www.americanheart.org) Tissue Plasminogen Activator (tPA) What is tPA Tissue plasminogen activator (tPA) is a thrombolytic agent (clot-busting drug). It's approved for use in certain patients having a heart attack or stroke. The drug can dissolve blood clots, which cause most heart attacks and strokes. How does tPA help people having a heart attack Studies have shown that tPA and other clot-dissolving agents can reduce the amount of damage to the heart muscle and save lives. However, to be effective, they must be given within a few hours after symptoms begin. Administering tPA or other clot-dissolving agents is complex and is done through an intravenous (IV) line in the arm by hospital personnel. How does tPA help people having a stroke tPA has been shown to be effective in treating ischemic stroke. This kind of stroke is caused by blood clots that block blood flow to the brain. In 1996 the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the use of tPA to treat ischemic stroke in the first three hours after the start of symptoms. This makes it very important for people who think they're having a stroke to seek help immediately. If given promptly, tPA can significantly reduce the effects of stroke and reduce permanent disability. tPA or other thrombolytics can reduce disability from a heart attack or stroke, but there is also a higher risk of bleeding.
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