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Strokes are brain attacks

Stroke is the third leading cause of death in the United States and the top cause of adult disability. Often called a "brain attack," stroke occurs when an artery leading to or in the brain becomes clogged or ruptured, cutting off blood flow to the body's most vital organ.

There are several different types of strokes, categorized by whether the blood supply was disrupted because of a blocked blood vessel (ischemic stroke) or a hemorrhage.

Each type of stroke has a different treatment, so it is very important for the physician to determine the cause of the stroke, as well as its location, as quickly as possible.

The ability to recognize and appropriately treat a stroke requires a hospital to have a system already in place to rapidly recognize a stroke, determine the type of stroke, and start appropriate treatment without delay. Baptist Health Louisville has such a system in place -- including a special Team D in the Emergency Department which springs into action when a patient having a stroke is brought to the hospital.

Baptist Health Louisville recently achieved Primary Stroke Center certification from The Joint Commission.

Most often strokes are ischemic or due to a blocked blood vessel. Treatment can range from prescribing blood thinners to administering a drug called t-PA. In the event of hemorrhagic stroke, surgery may be required to prevent further bleeding into the brain.

The best treatment for stroke is prevention, primarily through lifestyle changes such as quitting smoking and controlling high blood pressure.

However, if you experience the symptoms of a stroke, call 911 immediately. 

Symptoms are:

  • Sudden numbness or weakness, especially on one side of the body.
  • Sudden confusion, trouble speaking or understanding
  • Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes
  • Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination
  • Sudden severe headache with no known cause.

Request to be taken to the certified primary stroke center nearest you. Remember: time is brain.