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Stroke Care

What is a stroke?
There are two different types of stroke. An ischemic stroke occurs when a blood clot blocks a blood vessel in the brain, and a hemorrhagic stroke occurs when an artery in the brain bursts and causes bleeding inside the brain. Without blood, part of your brain starts to die, and the part of the body controlled by the damaged area of the brain can't function properly.

What are symptoms of a stroke?
Symptoms of a stroke appear quickly, and brain damage can begin within minutes after symptoms appear. A stroke may cause:

  • Sudden numbness, paralysis, or weakness in your face, arm, or leg, especially on only one side of your body.
  • Sudden difficulty with walking or balance.
  • Sudden vision changes.
  • Sudden difficulty with speaking or understanding simple statements.
  • Sudden confusion.
  • Sudden severe headache with no known cause.

What should I do if I experience some symptoms of a stroke?
If you or a loved one experiences any symptoms of a stroke, call 911 immediately. Quick treatment can help limit damage to your brain and increase the chance of a full recovery.

How is a stroke diagnosed?
To confirm a diagnosis of a stroke, you may need to have a CT scan or other tests performed. These tests can also help determine if you had an ischemic stroke or a hemorrhagic stroke.

How is a stroke treated?
The type of treatment you need will depend on the type of stroke you had. Treatment may involve restoring blood flow to the brain or the administration of medications to dissolve blood clots, control blood pressure, and/or alleviate brain swelling. Your doctor may also perform surgery to stop any bleeding or to relieve pressure in the brain.

What stroke care does Sacred Heart Hospital provide?
If you enter Sacred Heart Hospital's Emergency Department exhibiting stroke symptoms, a special stroke care team will be immediately alerted that you have arrived so urgent care can be administered as soon as possible. You will:

  • be given a CT scan within 25 minutes, but most often within 10 minutes.
  • have your CT scan interpreted by a board-certified radiologist.
  • be given life-saving medications.
  • be cared for by emergency medicine and critical care nurses certified in stroke care as well as by a multidisciplinary stroke care team.
  • be examined by a board-certified neurologist if a stroke is diagnosed.

How can I prevent a stroke?
Many important lifestyle habits can reduce your chances of experiencing a stroke.

  • Don't smoke and avoid secondhand smoke.
  • Eat a heart-healthy diet full of fish, fruit, vegetables, beans, high-fiber grains and breads, and olive oil.
  • Reduce your salt intake.
  • Exercise moderately at least 2 ½ hours per week.
  • Maintain a healthy weight.
  • Maintain healthy cholesterol and blood pressure levels.
  • If you have diabetes, maintain a healthy blood sugar level.
  • Limit your alcohol intake.
  • Take a daily aspirin or other medication if your doctor advises it.
  • Avoid contracting the flu. Get a flu shot every year.

What are some risk factors for stroke?
Some risk factors are ones you can control, while others are not. Talk to your doctor about any risk factors you have for stroke and ways you can reduce your risk.
Controllable risk factors

  • High blood pressure
  • Atrial fibrillation (AF)
  • High cholesterol
  • Diabetes
  • Smoking and tobacco use
  • Alcohol use
  • Obesity

Uncontrollable risk factors

  • Age
  • Gender
  • Race
  • Family history
  • Previous stroke or mini-stroke
  • Fibromuscular dysplasia
  • Patent foramen ovale (PFO or hole in the heart)

Stroke CertificationAbout Primary Stroke Center Certification
Sacred Heart Hospital has earned the Gold Seal of Approval as a certified Primary Stroke Center. This designation signifies that we follow national standards and guidelines that significantly improve outcomes for stroke patients.


SilverGold Performance Achievement Award
Sacred Heart Hospital has received the American Stroke Association's Get With The Guidelines–Stroke (GWTG–Stroke) Gold Performance Achievement Award. The award recognizes our commitment and success in implementing a higher standard of stroke care.




Questions? Concerns?
If you have any questions or concerns about stroke, please call 610-776-4654.