About 700,000 Americans suffer a new or recurrent stroke each year.
On average, a stroke occurs every 45 seconds. The effects of a stroke
can be devastating for both the individual and their family. It's
important to call 9-1-1 immediately if someone is showing signs of a
Stroke Warning Signs
Pay attention for these stroke warning signs:
- Sudden numbness or weakness of the face, arm or leg, especially on one side of the body
- Sudden confusion, trouble speaking or understanding
- Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes
- Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination
- Sudden, severe headache with no known cause
If you think you or someone you know is experiencing signs of a stroke, don't delay. Call 911 right away and ask to be taken to UnityPoint Health - St. Luke's Emergency Department.
Stroke Risk Factors
Individuals 60 and older are at increased risk for a stroke, as well as people with these risk factors:
- High blood pressure
- High blood cholesterol
- Family history of atherosclerotic and circulatory problems
PODCAST EPISODE: Dr. Ryan Sundermann, St. Luke's ER medical director, returns to the podcast to discuss stroke signs, symptoms, treatment and prevention of strokes.
Treatments can be beneficial when administered as soon as possible after the onset of the stroke. It is critical to get to the hospital and be diagnosed as soon as possible. There are several steps in the initial assessment and management of a person with a stroke.
Receiving treatment early is essential in reducing the damage from a stroke. The chances for survival and recovery are also best if treatment is received at a hospital specifically certified as a primary stroke center, like St. Luke's Hospital.
Treatment of Ischemic Stroke
Immediate treatment of ischemic stroke aims at dissolving the blood clot. Patients who arrive at the emergency room with signs of acute ischemic stroke are usually given aspirin to help thin the blood. Aspirin can be lethal for patients suffering a hemorrhagic stroke, so it is best not to take aspirin at home and to wait until after the doctor has determined what kind of stroke has occurred.
If patients arrive at the hospital within 3 - 4 hours of stroke onset (when symptoms first appear), they may be candidates for thrombolytic ("clot-buster") drug therapy. Thrombolytic drugs are used break up existing blood clots. The standard thrombolytic drugs are tissue plasminogen activators (t-PAs). They include alteplase (Activase) and reteplase (Retavase).
Treatment of Hemorrhagic Stroke
Treatment of hemorrhagic stroke depends in part on whether the stroke is caused by bleeding between the brain and the skull (subarachnoid hemorrhage) or within the brain tissue (intracerebral hemorrhage). Both medications and surgery may be used.
Surgery may be performed for aneurysms or arteriovenous malformations that are bleeding. The surgery may be done through a craniotomy, which involves making an opening in the skull bone.
Less invasive techniques can be done by threading a catheter. A catheter is guided through a small cut in the groin to an artery and then to the small blood vessels in the brain where the aneurysm is located. Thin metal wires are put into the aneurysm. They then coil up into a mesh ball. Blood clots that form around this coil prevent the aneurysm from breaking open and bleeding. If the aneurysm has ruptured, a clip may be placed on it to prevent further leaking of blood into the brain.
PODCAST EPISODE: Kelly Printy, RN, nurse supervisor, and Rhapsody Kirkpatrick, RN, patient care coordinator, join Dr. Arnold to discuss what is a stroke, signs and symptoms to watch out for, treatment and more.
Rehabilitation After a Stroke
If you've had a stroke, St. Luke's Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation is a regional leader in helping stroke patients get back to where they want to be.
PODCAST EPISODE: Kevin Komenda, senior physical therapist at St. Luke's, joins Dr. Arnold to discuss rehabilitation for stroke patients, common post-stroke issues, types of therapy and much more.
St. Luke's Stroke Clinic
To reduce the chances you'll experience a recurrent stroke, we've
developed a clinic that offers support, education and resources to
patients and families who've experienced a stroke. We offer:
- One-on-one stroke education to help you reduce your risk factors and learn the signs and symptoms of a stroke
- Medication reviews and adjustments as needed
- Communication about your health status with your doctor and healthcare team