AAN-Joint Commission Speak Up Campaign Provides Advice on Early Signs and Risks of Stroke

February 1, 2012


Knowing the early signs and risk factors for stroke and understanding that a stroke is a “brain attack” requiring immediate action can significantly improve a patient’s recovery and prevent future strokes, according to The Joint Commission’s new Speak Up™:  “What You Should Know About Stroke” educational campaign. The Joint Commission is launching this campaign, which coincides with the February 1–3 International Stroke Conference 2012, to help Americans understand the importance of preventing strokes and seeking immediate treatment when they occur.

The campaign was developed in collaboration with the American Academy of Neurology, American Association of Neuroscience Nurses, American Heart Association/American Stroke Association, National Stroke Association and NIH/National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke.

“Hours or even minutes can mean the difference between life and death or significant disability when it comes to having a stroke,” said AAN President Bruce Sigsbee, MD, FAAN. “That is why the American Academy of Neurology is pleased to be involved in The Joint Commission’s new Speak Up campaign to help people recognize the signs of stroke. With stroke, every minute counts, so it’s important people pay attention to any symptoms and call 911 to get to an emergency department as soon as possible.” 

The Joint Commission’s new campaign covers topics such as the early signs of stroke, stroke risk factors, what to do if you are at increased risk for stroke, what happens after a stroke, and what to expect during recovery. The campaign provides helpful tips and encourages people to take action to improve their health.

“A stroke can be a devastating event, but there are many things we can do to reduce our risks,” says Ana Pujols–McKee, MD, executive vice president and chief medical officer, The Joint Commission. “By learning about stroke, you can protect yourself and your loved ones from one of the leading causes of death in America.”

The Joint Commission’s new stroke education campaign is part of the award–winning Speak Up program. Speak Up brochures are available in English and Spanish at www.jointcommission.org. The Joint Commission’s Speak Up program urges people to take an active role in their own health care.

The basic framework of the Speak Up campaign urges patients to:

  • Speak up if you have questions or concerns, and if you don't understand, ask again. It's your body and you have a right to know.
  • Pay attention to the care you are receiving. Make sure you're getting the right treatments and medications by the right health care professionals. Don't assume anything.
  • Educate yourself about your diagnosis, the medical tests you are undergoing, and your treatment plan.
  • Ask a trusted family member or friend to be your advocate.
  • Know what medications you take and why you take them. Medication errors are the most common health care errors.
  • Use a hospital, clinic, surgery center, or other type of health care organization that has undergone a rigorous on–site evaluation against established state–of–the–art quality and safety standards, such as that provided by The Joint Commission.
  • Participate in all decisions about your treatment. You are the center of the health care team.

Speak Up brochures also are available on the topics of breastfeeding, dialysis patients who are hospitalized, diabetes patients who are hospitalized, visiting the doctor’s office, understanding medical tests, recovering after leaving the hospital, preventing medication mistakes, preventing infections, health literacy, preparing to become a living organ donor, avoiding mistakes in your surgery, and preventing errors in care.