When a stroke happens, every minute counts. Our team utilizes their expertise, technology and collective collaboration to deliver fast and thorough treatment for stroke patients.
Stroke warning signs:
- Severe headache
- Confusion, disorientation or memory loss
- Numbness, weakness or clumsiness of an arm, leg or side of the face
- Abnormal or slurred speech
- Loss of vision
- Poor balance or lack of coordination
Act F-A-S-T when a stroke strikes
- Face - Does the person have a facial droop? Ask them to smile.
- Arms - Is on arm weak or numb? Ask the person to raise both arms.
- Speech - Is the speech slurred? Ask the person to repeat a simple sentence.
- Time - Time for help. Call 9-1-1!
Collaboration begins when you call 911 when you experience stroke symptoms. Fast response provides timely treatment that gives the best chance for recovery and quality of life after a stroke.
Stroke is an interruption of the blood supply to a part of the brain that lasts for more than 24 hours. Incidents that resolve more rapidly are referred to as Transient Ischemic Attacks or TIAs. A history of TIA may increase your risk factor for stroke by 10 times. Individuals suffering a TIA have a 25 percent likelihood of a heart attack or stroke within 90 days. Stroke or TIA is a medical emergency!
There are two types of stroke:
- Ischemic stroke is caused by clotting within a vessel supplying blood to the brain; and
- Hemorrhagic stroke occurs when there is bleeding in the brain caused either by excessively high blood pressure at a weakened point in a blood vessel or through a burst aneurysm (bubble in a blood vessel) within the brain.
Approximately 81 percent of all strokes are ischemic while the remainder are hemorrhagic.
Thrombolytic Therapy (tPA)
Because body tissues must receive a regular supply of oxygen, which is delivered through blood, time is critical, hence the saying: "Time is Brain."
A clot-busting agent known as tissue Plasminogen Activator—or tPA— is used for strokes caused by a blocked artery in the brain. The drug may be administered intravenously up to four and a half hours after the stroke. By dissolving the blood clot, tPA restores blood flow to the brain and significantly improves the chances of recovery.
Endovascular treatment (removing the clot with a device) may be performed if patients have a large vessel clot, are not able to get IV alteplase, or it’s not effective. This treatment may be offered up to 24 hours after onset of symptoms.
For patients diagnosed with a hemorrhagic stroke, surgery may be needed to repair the damaged blood vessel and to place a temporary drainage catheter within the brain to reduce intracranial pressure. If an aneurysm is found, it is clipped to prevent further trauma.
When blood flow throughout the carotid artery is reduced 60 percent or more, surgery (endarterectomy) is recommended to remove the plaque and restore blood flow to the vertebral arteries. Arteries within the brain may be treated surgically or with angioplasty and stenting. These procedures enlarge blocked blood arteries and blood flow.
Patients suffer disability, but the degree of disability depends on the size and location of the stroke. Research has shown that a majority of stroke patients demonstrate improved long-term outcomes if inpatient rehabilitation begins within hours after the onset of stroke symptoms.
During the hospital stay, stroke patients are seen by therapists who work on speech, swallowing, strength training, balance and walking, and fine motor skills. Rehabilitation continues this much more intensively. Patients will spend several hours a day working on improving their function, with the goal to be as independent as possible after going home.
Rehab helps people start working on the basic tasks we all do every day. This includes bathing, eating and cooking for some, or even more basic tasks such as speaking, swallowing and moving arms and legs for others.
A major goal of rehabilitation is to help people be as independent as possible and then go home, but for some that is not always realistic. Rehabilitation will then focus on improving patient function as much as possible to make life more enjoyable in whatever living arrangements are then needed. Most of the improvement after strokes occurs within three to six months of rehabilitation, and most patients make continued but slower improvement over a longer period.
Stroke is preventable
The good news is that stroke can be prevented and most risk factors are controllable. The risk factors are similar to heart disease. If a person has heart disease, it’s likely he or she will have artery disease in the brain, too. Talk to your doctor or primary health care provider, and check blood pressure, cholesterol levels and fasting blood sugars regularly. Exercise 30 minutes a day most days of the week, and only drink alcohol at a light to moderate level.