AcuteCare Telemedicine Blog


Be a Catalyst in the Fight Against Stroke!

In 1924 when a few dedicated physicians and social workers set out to collectively focus attention and study on cardiovascular disease, the most common treatment for people with heart disease was often total confinement to bed rest. At the time, Paul Dudley White, one of six cardiologists who founded the American Heart Association said, “We were living in a time of almost unbelievable ignorance about heart disease.” Today the American Heart Association (AHA) is the oldest and largest association dedicated to fighting cardiovascular diseases and stroke. The AHA will continue to promote their fight on February 11-15 at the International Stroke Conference in downtown Nashville, TN. The International Stroke Conference, “Connecting the World to Stroke Science,” is the world’s largest meeting of medical professionals dedicated to the science and treatment of cerebrovascular disease.

The conference provides attendees the opportunity to network with more than 4,000 cerebrovascular experts representing over 60 countries; it offers outstanding programming that delivers more than 1,500 compelling presentations in 21 categories emphasizing basic, clinical and translational sciences as they evolve toward a more complete understanding of stroke pathophysiology with the goal to develop more effective prevention and treatment. The Conference will offer numerous informative sessions in clinical, basic science and other specialized topics.

Those who plan on attending can maximize their conference experience by participating in one of the three pre-conference symposia:

The State of the Science Stroke Nursing Symposium

Pre-Conference Symposium I: Stroke in the Real World – Working Man Blues: Challenges in Inpatient Stroke Care

Pre-Conference Symposium II (Students/Trainees/Early Career Professionals): Emerging Trends for Stroke Trials: Biomarkers, Adaptive Trial Design, Repair Trials, and New Endpoints

Registration is now open for this premier educational event dedicated to the science and treatment of cerebrovascular disease. The event will be held at the Music City Center in Downtown Nashville, TN on February 11 thru 15, 2015.

Be a catalyst in the fight against stroke, become a Professional AHA/ASA Member now and save on registration for the 2015 International Stroke Conference.



Think of Your Brain!

It is without a doubt the most vital organ in the human body, but too often we neglect the importance of taking good care of our brain. The development and organization of the brain are incredibly complex, but the intricacies of this central body belie the simplicity of its proper day to day caretaking. We only get one – why not give some thought (pun intended) to it.

Prevention of traumatic head injuries is likely the most obvious consideration for avoiding significant damage to the brain. Unfortunately, we cannot always predict when an accident might occur, but we can take basic steps like fastening our seat belts while riding in automobiles and wearing helmets when engaging in physical activities carrying risk of trauma. Beneath the skull, we must be concerned with degenerative disorders of the brain affecting motor skills and cognition, such as Alzheimer’s Disease and Parkinson’s. Depression and anxiety also afflict millions of individuals across the country. It is important to remember that although our fast paced, high-stress lives can seem overwhelming, these conditions are chemical, and there are measures we can take to mitigate their negative effects.

Perhaps the most severe threat to the brain is stroke and other cardiovascular disease. The American lifestyle has taken a significant toll on the health of the blood vessels that deliver vital oxygen and nutrients to the brain. We have seen it most exaggerated throughout the southeastern US, a part of the country known as the ‘Stroke Belt,’ where residents face significantly higher rates of stroke morbidity and mortality.

The experts offering advice to citizens on how to minimize their risk of stroke sound like a veritable broken record; sleep more. Eat better. Exercise. Although stroke care has made huge advances in technology and technique over the course of the past decade, there is truthfully no more powerful plan of action than that of prevention. Telemedicine may soon be able to play a bigger role in opening lines communications between physicians and patients at risk of having a stroke, helping them take the necessary steps to avoid an emergency situation where the health of their brain and their life are in danger. As neurologists become more familiar with the advantages of new telemedicine technologies, they are realizing that the “ounce of prevention” is more readily available than ever before.



ACT Speaks at Connecting Alabama Summit

AcuteCare Telemedicine (ACT) Partner Dr. Keith Sanders and Sales Executive Michael Woodcock are travelling to Prattville, Alabama to attend the first annual Connecting Alabama – Telehealth and Broadband Summit from October 17th – 19th.

The event is hosted by Connecting ALABAMA, a government-sponsored initiative working with citizens and community leaders from across the state to improve high speed internet deployment, and the Alabama Partnership for TeleHealth, a charitable nonprofit corporation with a focus on increasing access to healthcare through the innovative use of technology. Together, the organizations hope to provide an opportunity to extend telehealth services throughout all 67 counties of the state.

Topics of discussion at the event range from technical considerations, to the state’s role in deployment, to policy issues, to the current state of telehealth.  Dr. Sanders will speak on Thursday, October 18th about the future of telemedicine, specifically stroke teleneurology. The work of Dr. Sanders and the other physicians of ACT in the field of teleneurology is particularly relevant in any discussion of healthcare in Alabama, as the state is located in the region of the southeastern United States known as the ‘Stroke Belt’ for its unusually high incidence of stroke and other cardiovascular diseases.

Dr. Sanders’ presentation will address necessary tactics for successful and sustainable implementation of telestroke programs, and the characteristics of effective regionally-oriented stroke care that are enabled by telehealth. “I am excited for the opportunity to share ACT’s vision of extending expert neurological care throughout the rural and underserved parts of Alabama and the rest of the country,” says Sanders. “Opening the dialogue at this inaugural event is a key step towards achieving a future with a better standard of care in a more interconnected world.”

For more information about ACT, visit www.acutecaretelemed.com.



Before Stroke Strikes

The fight against stroke, the second leading cause of death worldwide and leading cause of disability, begins long before a patient’s arrival to the ER. Awareness by physicians of common modifiable risk factors, including hypertension, diabetes and hyperlipidemia is key to the decrease the incidence of stroke. Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), one such relatively common modifiable risk factor, is often unrecognized and underdiagnosed.

OSA is a disorder characterized by repetitive airway collapse, leading to arousals and oxygen distortions. It is well known that when these events occur, there is an increase in sympathetic tone and a rise in systemic blood pressure. OSA has also been found to be associated with an increase in proinflammatory and prothrombotic factors, both of which can lead to atherosclerosis and subsequent cardiovascular disease and stroke.

The results of the Sleep Heart Health Study, a 9 year prospective cohort study designed to determine risks associated with OSA, showed that OSA is an independent risk factor of stroke. It is estimated that over 15 million Americans have OSA, the majority of whom go undiagnosed.

Identifying patients at risk (i.e. those with obesity, loud snoring, excessive daytime sleepiness, etc.) should prompt consultation with a sleep disorders specialist. Appropriate work up and management should be implemented with an emphasis on treatment compliance. Public and professional awareness of the potential dangers of untreated OSA is crucial to a further decrease in stroke related morbidity and mortality.



Proximity Matters in Stroke Care

A recent study published by the CDC discusses the importance of telemedicine for improving quality of stroke initiatives at hospitals in the Southeast.   The report identified deficiencies in timely access to Joint Commission Primary Stroke Centers (JCPSCs) in the tri-state area of North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia, part of a region known as the ‘Stroke Belt,’ recognized by public health authorities for having an unusually high incidence of stroke and other forms of cardiovascular disease.

Researchers categorize ease of access by measuring 30 and 60 minute drive times to JCPSCs. Not surprisingly, they reported a significant disparity: only 26% of people living in rural areas lived within a 30-minute drive time to a Stroke Center compared to 70% of those in urban areas. They next compared drive-times and stroke death rates within these states. Many of the counties with the highest stroke death rates were outside the 30-minute drive-time areas.

Stroke is a medical emergency. Rapid treatment is a defining factor in achieving better patient outcomes.  Many hospitals are looking to telemedicine, an alternative strategy to expand provision of quality acute stroke care in the region, particularly to underserved populations. Telestroke networks drastically reduce the time it takes for rural citizens to gain access to neurologists who can diagnose and treat the emergency.

Patients living outside of the 60-minute travel window from JCPSCs are still at increased risk.  However, Georgia continually expands the scope of its telestroke networks in an effort to afford proper emergency care access to all citizens statewide.