Advanced Primary Stroke Center

Image of neurons firing.

Northwest Texas Healthcare System in Amarillo, Texas has earned Advanced Certification as a Primary Stroke Center by the Joint Commission. This means we were recognized for providing effective, evidenced-based practice for all patients experiencing a stroke or stroke-type symptoms.

Remote Consultations Through Telemedicine

Specialty 'telestroke' (telemedicine) services at Northwest Texas Healthcare System help patients receive advanced assessment and rapid treatment during the critical period following the onset of stroke symptoms. Two-way audiovisual capabilities provide immediate, remote consultations anytime day or night. Telemedicine capabilities bring advanced neurological specialties to the bedside at Northwest Texas Healthcare System.

Using secure, advanced telemedicine equipment, specialty stroke neurologists are "in the room" working collaboratively with Northwest's emergency and stroke teams to determine the most effective treatment option for patients.

Telestroke services include:

  • Twenty-four-hour availability
  • Secure, robotic video conferencing
  • Evidence-based clinical treatment
  • Consultation and collaboration with board-certified stroke neurologists

Stroke Explained

A stroke is what occurs when blood flow to the brain is blocked or stopped. Within a few minutes of a stroke, brain cells begin to die. This is why it's so important for someone who is having a stroke to get medical attention as quickly as possible. Stroke affects about one person every four minutes in the US, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Stroke Symptoms

Symptoms of possible stroke include:

  • Numbness or weakness of the face, arm or leg—especially on one side of the body
  • Difficulty with speaking or understanding speech
  • Trouble seeing in one or both eyes
  • Trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination
  • Severe headache with no known cause.

If you or someone you're with has any of these symptoms, you must get yourself or them to a hospital immediately. Staff in the emergency department will administer acute stroke medications to try to stop a stroke while it is happening. Ischemic stroke, the most common type of stroke, is treated with the 'clot-busting' drug known as tPA. The drug must be given to patients within three- to four-and-a-half hours after the onset of stroke symptoms.

Think FAST and Save a Life

If you or someone near you may be having a stroke, call 9-1-1 right away. The quicker you call for help, the sooner medical treatment can begin.

Use the acronym FAST to quickly identify possible strokes:

F = FACE
Smile. Does one side of the face droop? Can you see the same number of teeth on each side of the face?
A = ARMS
Hold up both arms for 10 seconds. Does one drift downward?
S = SPEECH
Repeat a simple sentence. Is the speech slurred or strange? Can you understand the person?
T = TIME
If these signs are present, every second counts. Call 9-1-1 immediately.

Preventing Stroke

The best way to keep your brain healthy is to avoid a stroke in the first place. The best ways to prevent stroke are to do the following:

  • Keep your blood pressure controlled through lifestyle changes and/or medications
  • Don't smoke or stop smoking
  • Take steps to manage your cholesterol
  • Limit your alcohol consumption
  • Exercise regularly
  • Maintain a healthy weight

Direct Doctors Plus®

For a non-emergency referral to a physician at Northwest Texas Healthcare System who can help assess your risk for stroke, contact our free Direct Doctors Plus referral service at 800-887-1114.