Stroke Awareness Q&A

What are the symptoms of stroke?

The symptoms vary depending on what part of the brain is affected. Stroke happens when there is a sudden stoppage of blood flow to the brain. The person experiencing a stroke will complain of the sudden onset of neurological symptoms. The most common include weakness or loss of sensation to one side of the face, arm, or leg; inability to speak or slurring of words; difficulty with balance or walking; loss of vision or double vision; and dizziness or vertigo (a sense of room spinning). Less common symptoms are sudden onset of severe headache, nausea and vomiting, and acute loss of vision in one eye.

What should you do if you think you are having a stroke?

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms 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 certified stroke center.

How is stroke treated?

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 confirm the stroke diagnosis. As many as 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, a medicine called tPA (tissue plasminogen activator) can be given to dissolve the clot and restore blood supply to the brain. Time is of the essence in receiving this medicine, so the faster a person is treated, 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.

How can people prevent strokes?

The single best way to prevent strokes is by maintaining good control of blood pressure. Normal blood pressure is less than 120 mm Hg systolic AND less than 80 mm Hg diastolic or <120/80. 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, such as a family history of stroke and advancing age, cannot be reduced so it is important to change those that can be.

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 indicates a hospital has met national standards for the treatment of stroke.