Stroke

If you or a loved one is experiencing symptoms of a stroke, call 911 immediately. Brain damage can begin within minutes, and quick treatment can help increase the chances of a full and meaningful recovery.

Signs & Symptoms of a Stroke

An easy way to remember the signs and symptoms of stroke is to think FASST.

  • Face: Ask the person to smile. Does their face droop on one side?
  • Arm: Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one drift down?
  • Speech: Ask the person to talk. Are they mumbling or slurring?
  • Sight: Has the person experienced a sudden loss of vision?
  • Time: Every minute counts with stroke. Call 911 immediately.

What is a Stroke?

A stroke occurs when a blood vessel in the brain is blocked (ischemic) or bleeds (hemorrhagic). Blood carrying oxygen can't get to the brain and brain cells start to die. Damaged areas of the brain can lead to loss of bodily functions, such as speech, arm movement and sight, can be impaired.

Types of Stroke

Ischemic stroke – An ischemic stroke happens when there’s a clot or obstruction blocking the supply of blood going to your brain. Eighty-seven percent of all strokes are ischemic.

Hemorrhagic stroke – A hemorrhagic stroke occurs when a blood vessel ruptures.

Transient ischemic attack (TIA) – A transient ischemic attack or TIA is caused by a temporary clot. It’s often referred to as a “mini stroke” and serves as a warning stroke. TIAs should be taken very seriously.

Diagnosing & Treating a Stroke

Typically, a CT scan is the first test performed, during or after after a stroke. A CT scan will show whether the stroke was caused by a blocked artery or by a leaking or ruptured artery.  

For a stroke caused by a clot or blockage, doctors might use:

  • A clot-dissolving medicine called tissue plasminogen activator (t-PA), given through the patient’s vein. Tissue plasminogen activator needs to be used within three hours of having a stroke. That’s why it’s critical to identify a stroke and seek treatment right away.
  • Intra-arterial thrombolytics (IA) may be given as long as eight hours after the first stroke symptom. In this procedure, a catheter is guided through the patient’s leg to the site of the clot. The clot-dissolving medication is then delivered directly onto the clot.
  • Special procedures to reach the clot and remove or break it up.

Treatment for a stroke caused by a leaking or ruptured artery includes:

  • Efforts to control bleeding, reduce pressure in the brain and stabilize vital signs, especially blood pressure.
  • Surgery and non-surgical methods to repair the leak or rupture.
  • Surgery to remove the blood that has built up inside the brain and to lower pressure inside the head.
Recovering From a Stroke

Discover the stroke recovery process and see how Mercy specialists can help.

A Guide To Understanding Stroke

Take charge of your health. Download our Guide to Understanding Stroke.

Resources

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