Stroke is the fourth
leading cause of death in the U.S. and a leading cause of disability. Michael Vecchione, DO, the medical director of Newport Hospital’s Stroke Program, answers common questions about stroke and what being a Primary Stroke Center means.
What are the symptoms of stroke?
The symptoms of stroke are very variable depending on what part of
the brain is affected. Stroke happens when there is a sudden stoppage
of blood flow to the brain. When this happens the person experiencing a
stroke will complain of the sudden onset of neurological symptoms.
The most common symptoms include a sudden onset of weakness or loss of
sensation to one side of the face, arm, and/or leg; inability to speak
or slurring of the words; difficulty with balance or walking; loss of
vision or double vision; or a sudden onset of dizziness or vertigo (a
sense of room spinning). Less common, but associated symptoms include
sudden onset of severe headache, nausea and vomiting, and acute loss of
vision in one eye.
What should someone do if they suspect someone is having a stroke?
If you are experiencing the above problems and feel you are having a
stroke, you or someone with you should call 911 immediately. You should
not drive yourself to the hospital. When possible, you should be
brought to the nearest hospital that is a Certified Stroke Center.
How is stroke treated?
Stroke is treated in many ways. A patient presenting to the hospital
will be quickly assessed by the ER physicians and the nursing staff.
Blood tests and a CT of the brain will be done as quickly as possible to
help further the diagnosis of stroke and direct the proper treatment.
Up to 80 percent of strokes involve the blockage of a blood vessel by a
clot resulting in that part of the brain dying. For this type of stroke,
there is a medicine called tPA (tissue plasimogen activator) that can
be given to dissolve the clot and hopefully restore blood supply to the
brain. Time is very important in receiving this medicine, so the faster a
person is treated, typically the better the outcome. The other major
type of stroke (20 percent) is due to a breaking of a blood vessel in
the brain resulting in a blood clot forming inside the brain. This type
of stroke is often due to underlying high blood pressure. It is treated
by neurologists and neurosurgeons using a variety of other measures
including medications and procedures.
How can people prevent strokes?
The single best way to prevent strokes is by maintaining good control
of blood pressure. Blood pressures less than 140/90 are recommended and
less than 130/80 maybe better in some people. The other way to
prevent stroke is by keeping your cholesterol level low especially the "bad cholesterol" called LDL (low density lipoprotein), not smoking,
controlling your diabetes, controlling your weight, and exercising
routinely. Some risk factors like a family history of stroke and
advancing age cannot be changed.
Newport Hospital is designated as a Primary Stroke Center by the Joint Commission. Why is this important and what does it mean?
Being certified by the Joint Commission, means that a hospital has
met national standards for the quality treatment of those suffering from
stroke. Newport Hospital became certified as a Primary Stroke Center
in 2012 and has maintained its certification since by continuing these
Find Out More
Stroke services at Newport Hospital