Stroke Signs and Symptoms | Screening and Prevention | Diagnostic Capabilities | Treatment Options | Team Care Advantage | Patient, Family and Caregiver Support | For More Information
Strokes abruptly deprive the brain of vital blood and oxygen that can quickly damage brain cells without immediate medical attention. Restoring proper blood flow as soon as possible is critical. Whether it is an ischemic stroke caused by blockage or narrowed arteries that reduce blood flow or a hemorrhagic stroke resulting from a ruptured blood vessel in the brain, every minute truly counts for the best outcome. The NorthShore Neurological Institute’s Acute Stroke Team is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Our multidisciplinary stroke service collaborates with other healthcare professionals throughout the NorthShore system to ensure timely screening and stroke treatment.
As Certified Primary Stroke Centers, NorthShore University HealthSystem’s Evanston, Glenbrook, Highland Park and Skokie Hospitals provide the most comprehensive care available between Chicago and Milwaukee for stroke treatment and prevention. Among the strict criteria required to earn Certified Stroke Center status from The Joint Commission is a dedicated stroke unit with specially trained nurses and higher acuity clinical and technical monitoring of stroke patients. Our integrated stroke program team also specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of other cerebrovascular conditions such as brain aneurysm and carotid artery disease that place patients at high risk for stroke.
Stroke Symptoms and Signs
The most common stroke signs include the sudden development of:
- Trouble seeing (i.e., double or loss of vision)
- Distorted speech or comprehension problems
- Extreme and unexplained headaches
- Paralysis or tingling in the face or extremities
- Dizziness or unsteadiness
Screening and Prevention
Stroke is the third leading cause of death and the number one cause of adult disability, yet it is a condition that is largely preventable. Our NorthShore Neurological Institute specialists who include vascular (stroke) neurologists, endovascular neurosurgeons and physiatrists focused on stroke rehab are committed to educating the community about lifestyle changes that may reduce the risk of strokes.
Prevention guidelines include:
- Reducing high blood pressure (hypertension)
- Controlling blood sugar
- Achieving healthy cholesterol levels
- Identifying irregular heart beat
- Reducing alcohol consumption
- Smoking cessation
- Exercising regularly
- Maintaining a healthy weight
- Treating sleep apnea
- Recognizing stroke signs and symptoms
Accurate diagnosis is the first step toward effective stroke treatment for patients. NorthShore Neurological Institute experts have immediate access to advanced imaging technology. Experience and dedication across the stroke team means CT head scans are accomplished within minutes for patients showing stroke signs and symptoms, so that the best course of action may be taken right away. Additionally, NorthShore uniquely has around-the-clock access to acute stroke protocol MR brain imaging services used for select patients to determine if further intervention is needed in their care.
Stroke Treatment Options
At NorthShore we understand the life-saving importance of personalizing stroke care to each and every patient. The successful emergency stroke treatment of stroke depends on the type of stroke a patient is experiencing. For ischemic stroke, the NorthShore Neurological Institute’s Acute Stroke Team may use clot-busting medications to restore blood flow to the brain as quickly as possible. Drug therapy includes intravenous administration of t-PA—a thrombolytic drug that effectively dissolves blood clots when given shortly after the onset of stroke symptoms.
Using the most advanced stroke treatment techniques available, NorthShore’s stroke specialists also perform minimally invasive intra-arterial clot removal procedures that allow our interventional experts to safely open up blockages in patients, who may not be candidates for t-PA drug therapy. Our specialists employ the latest tools for this highly sophisticated procedure, including Solitaire FR, an FDA-approved clot removal device to restore blood flow. A variety of cutting-edge balloons and retrievable stents also may be used, as may the application of intra-arterial t-PA, in some cases, to effectively dissolve clots.
Bleeding in the brain caused by a ruptured cerebral blood vessel that leads to hemorrhagic stroke requires an entirely different approach from the one used for patients with more common ischemic strokes. Our stroke experts may use drug therapy to decrease the blood flow or surgery may be indicated. Surgical options performed by our vascular neurosurgeons, who are specially trained in neuroendovascular techniques, include open and minimally-invasive procedures to repair the blood vessels and halt the bleeding. Especially for brain aneurysms and vessel malformations, treatments include closing off the bleeding blood vessel with metal clips or inserting endovascular coils to stop the bleeding from within the vessel.
Team Care Advantage
The NorthShore Neurological Institute’s stroke team benefits from interdepartmental collaboration, participation in clinical research and a heightened state of readiness by Emergency Medical Services, Emergency Department physicians and staff, radiology, labs, the Acute Stroke Team, vascular surgeons and neurosurgeons as well as cardiologists, if needed. NorthShore’s nationally recognized, system-wide electronic health record system allows for seamless communication. Treating physicians can quickly obtain important information in the care of their patients, including remote access to CT and MR imaging scans.
Our experienced vascular neurologists further distinguish NorthShore’s stroke program and offer patients the finest care backed by the latest technology and acute medical and surgical treatment available. Fellowship-trained endovascular specialists bring to the NorthShore Neurological Institute special surgical expertise not found or readily available in many other stroke treatment centers.
Providing an important component of stroke treatment, the stroke service’s physiatry experts manage the patient’s rehabilitation needs. These dedicated physicians work with physical, occupational and speech therapists to maximize patients’ mobility, improve their ability to perform activities of daily living, and treat speech and swallowing difficulties caused by stroke. At NorthShore, we distinctly provide an inpatient rehabilitation unit at Evanston Hospital to help patients, such as those recovering from acute stroke and who need additional care, to better transition to home and outpatient therapy services.
Patients also benefit from the attention of Advanced Practice Nurses committed to the care of stroke patients and their families. They provide continuous, compassionate attention, offering comprehensive follow-up education and support during and after stroke treatment.
Long-term monitoring and one-on-one educational sessions are a critical component of NorthShore’s exceptional stroke care. Our comprehensive stroke program works collaboratively to develop individually focused treatment plans for patients at risk for first or subsequent strokes.
Patient, Family and Caregiver Support
NorthShore’s Stroke Support Group meets monthly at our hospital locations. Each meeting begins with an introduction of the participants followed by an educational offering related to stroke. Keynote speakers include subject matter experts primarily from the NorthShore professional community. Meetings conclude with networking and discussion time facilitated by a NorthShore recreational therapist. Stroke survivors, family members and caregivers are all welcome to attend.
For More Information
Please call 877.570.7020 for more information on stroke symptoms and treatment or to schedule an appointment with one of our specialists.