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A stroke occurs when blood flow to the brain stops due to a clot, causing brain cells to stop receiving oxygen.

Stroke symptoms

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 act FAST:

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 rupture)
  • Transient ischemic attack (TIA), also known as a “mini-stroke,” when a blood vessel is blocked for a short time

Stroke risks

The following increase a person’s risk of stroke:

Stroke survivors are at greater risk of having another stroke. Subsequent strokes can be more deadly and debilitating than the initial attack.

Care for stroke at Rush

Immediate care

  • Rapid evaluation for clot-busting medicine: After a stroke, there is a short window of opportunity for treatment with clot-busting medicine that can reduce further damage. Rush has a system for rapid diagnosis and treatment of stroke patients admitted to the emergency department. This system includes quick access to brain imaging, stroke neurologists to conduct patient evaluations and use of clot-busting medications when appropriate.
  • Emergency surgery: If clot-busting medicine cannot be used, physicians at Rush can often surgically remove the blood clot.

Comprehensive treatment

Rush provides comprehensive medical treatment for stroke and related conditions. This treatment includes immediate care for people having a stroke and follow-up care, including rehabilitation, physical therapy and occupational therapy, for people coping with the effects of a stroke.

Rush also offers inpatient rehabilitation available for those who could benefit from further therapy before being discharged from the hospital. 

Reduce risk for future stroke

Because people who have had one stroke are at a greater risk for additional strokes, clinicians at Rush work with patients to reduce their risk factors in a variety of ways:

  • Modify lifestyle behavior: Stroke doctors at Rush help patients control conditions that make a stroke more likely to occur, such as those noted above.
  • Prevent clots: Stroke doctors help patients find the right medications to help prevent clots.
  • Explore surgical options: To improve blood supply to the brain, some patients may need to also have surgery to remove plaque that is causing arteries in the neck to narrow.
  • Group support: Rush has monthly support groups for stroke survivors.
  • Buddy program: Patients can partner with a fellow stroke survivor for ongoing mentorship and encouragement over the phone.

Why choose Rush for stroke care

  • Better outcomes: The Rush Stroke Program has been certified by the Joint Commission as a comprehensive stroke center. This certification recognizes hospitals that foster better outcomes for stroke care and have the ability to care for even the most complex stroke cases.
  • National recognition: Rush is one of only two hospitals in Chicago to receive both the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association's (AHA/ASA) Get With The Guidelines – Stroke Gold Plus Achievement Award and the AHA/ASA's Target: Stroke Elite Plus Honor Roll Award. These prestigious awards recognize Rush's commitment to providing the most appropriate stroke treatment according to nationally recognized, research-based guidelines based on the latest scientific evidence.
  • Remote access to Rush expertise: Neurologists at Rush are leaders in providing stroke care throughout the region. Through the Rush Telestroke Network, stroke neurologists from Rush remotely assess patients at community hospitals in the region. This helps emergency room physicians at these hospitals determine if a patient is a candidate for the clot-busting medication, tissue plasminogen activator (tPA), or if they need to be transferred to Rush for more complex stroke care.

Departments and programs that treat this condition

James Conners, MD, MS, a stroke neurologist at Rush, sheds some light on stroke survival and recent advances.

Whether you're a woman or have loved ones who are women, knowing these facts about stroke can help save lives.