A stroke occurs when blood flow to the brain suddenly stops, causing brain cells to stop receiving oxygen. This can be due to a clot or a blood vessel bursting ("a bleed").
Know the signs of a stroke. Similar to a heart attack, stroke is a “brain attack.” Time lost during an attack equals brain cells lost.
If you or a loved one has sudden onset of stroke symptoms, remember to BE FAST:
- B: Balance. Can the person sit upright? Can they walk in a straight line?
- E: Eyes. Does the person complain of blurry, double or loss of vision?
- F: Face drooping. Ask the person to smile. Is one side of the smile drooping?
- A: Arm weakness or numbness, particularly on one side of the body. Ask the person to lift both arms. Does one arm drift downward?
- S: Speech that is slurred or difficult to understand. Ask the person to repeat a simple sentence. Do the words come out clearly?
- T: Time to call 911. If the person shows any of these signs, call 911 immediately.
Types of Stroke
There are several types of stroke and stroke-related conditions:
- Ischemic stroke, when a blood vessel becomes blocked.
- Hemorrhagic stroke, when a blood vessel in the brain leaks or bursts (such as during a brain aneurysm or AVM rupture).
- Transient ischemic attack (TIA), also known as a "mini stroke," when a blood vessel is blocked for a short time; a TIA lasts less than 24 hours, and is usually a few minutes to an hour. A TIA is a warning sign for a future, full-blown stroke.
Stroke and TIA Treatment at Rush
- Rapid evaluation: After an ischemic stroke, there is a short window of opportunity for using clot-busting medicine that can reduce further damage. Rush has a system for rapid diagnosis and treatment of stroke patients admitted to any of its emergency departments. This system includes quick access to brain imaging and stroke neurologists to conduct patient evaluations.
- Transfer as needed: At any of our hospitals, our stroke services team evaluates whether the use of clot-busting medications is appropriate. The team also evaluates which procedures they can perform there in the hospital. If needed, the stroke team may transfer you to Rush University Medical Center for more advanced procedures.
- Emergency surgery: If clot-busting medicine cannot be used, neurosurgeons at Rush University Medical Center can often surgically remove the blood clot. After you recover, you will go back to your local hospital (e.g., Rush Copley Medical Center or Rush Oak Park Hospital) for rehabilitation as needed.
After Stroke Treatment
If you or your loved one needs follow-up rehabilitation services to address damage caused by the stroke or TIA, Rush offers a variety of options in Chicago, Oak Park and Aurora. After you’re discharged, you may need continued rehab at one of our inpatient locations. If your care team recommends outpatient rehab, we offer services including physical, occupational and speech therapy. To reduce your risk for another future stroke, we help you make medical and lifestyle changes and connect you to other Rush specialists as needed.
Future Stroke Prevention
If you have had a stroke or TIA, you are at a greater risk for future strokes. That's why clinicians at Rush work with you to reduce risk factors in a variety of ways:
- Make lifestyle changes: You can reduce your chances of a second stroke by changing some unhealthy behaviors. Rush clinicians help you make that happen through smoking cessation classes and education on a healthier diet.
- Connect you to other Rush providers: Stroke doctors at Rush connect you to other Rush providers (such as cardiologists and primary care providers) to help you control stroke risk factors. The following conditions make stroke more likely:
- Prevent clots: Stroke doctors work with you to find the right medications to help prevent clots.
- Explore surgical options: To improve blood supply to your brain, you may need a procedure to remove plaque that is causing your carotid arteries (arteries in your neck) to narrow.
- Group support: Rush hosts online support groups for survivors of stroke and their caregivers. For information about the Rush University Medical Center group, email Stephanie Dahl or Gail Valadez. For information about the Rush Copley Medical Center group, call Molly Pretet at (630) 898-4637 and leave your name, phone number and email address.
Rush Excellence in Stroke and TIA Care
- Better outcomes: Rush stroke services at Rush University Medical Center are certified by the Joint Commission as a comprehensive stroke center. Rush Copley Medical Center and Rush Oak Park Hospitals are certified as primary stroke centers. These certifications recognize hospitals that have better outcomes for stroke care and can handle the most complex stroke cases.
- Comprehensive care after a stroke: The care you receive after a stroke is important to your recovery. We work as a team to make sure the medications and other treatments you have after a stroke are best suited to your situation. This includes rehabilitation to address any lasting effects from the stroke.
- Addressing effects of stroke: In addition to memory and thinking changes, a stroke can lead to depression, bowel and bladder issues, and spasticity (ranging from mild muscle stiffness to spasms), among other issues. Rush stroke neurologists provide you with a holistic assessment of your post-stroke needs. We work with other Rush providers (e.g., a behavioral health specialist or urologist) when you need additional help.
- Prevention of another stroke or TIA: We provide you and your family with extensive, comprehensive education and support so you can change your lifestyle as needed, like getting help to quit smoking. Our goal —always — is to help you prevent another, future stroke.
- Specialized care for women: Women and men experience the effects of stroke differently. And, some women are at greater risk for having a stroke. For instance, pregnancy can increase your risk for stroke if you have other related medical issues, like high blood pressure. That's why Rush has dedicated stroke services for women who have had a stroke or TIA.