Expert Care | Our Team | Screening & Prevention | Stroke Symptoms & Signs | Treatment Options | Rehabilitation & Recovery | Secondary Stroke Prevention

Expert Care

When it comes to stroke, every minute counts for the best outcome. At NorthShore, all four of our hospitals—Evanston, Glenbrook, Highland Park and Skokie—are Joint Commission Certified Primary Stroke Centers. Our dedicated stroke unit offers comprehensive, multidisciplinary care for stroke treatment and prevention.

Available 24 hours a day, seven days per week, our Acute Stroke Team works around the clock to ensure timely screening and stroke treatment. This team works to quickly restore proper blood flow to the brain caused by:

  • Ischemic stroke – caused by blockage or narrowed arteries that reduce blood flow to the brain
  • Hemorrhagic stroke—caused by a ruptured blood vessel in the brain

Our integrated stroke program team also specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of other cerebrovascular conditions such as brain aneurysm, cerebral vascular malformations, dissections and carotid artery disease that place patients at high risk for stroke.

Collaborative, Highly Trained Team

The NorthShore Neurological Institute’s stroke team—led by vascular (stroke) neurologists, vascular neurosurgeons and physiatrists—benefits from interdepartmental collaboration, participation in clinical research and a heightened state of readiness by all members of the stroke team, including: Emergency Medical Services, Emergency Department physicians and staff, radiology, cardiology, laboratory services, vascular surgeons and neurosurgeons.

The vast experience of our team allows us to promptly and properly treat stroke patients. Backed by sophisticated acute medical and surgical treatments, our system-wide electronic medical record system and the latest technological advances, our team offers stroke expertise not readily found or accessible in many other stroke treatment centers. 

Collaboration between our various team members is at the center of how we approach stroke care. All four of our emergency departments have telestroke capabilities—via phone, computer access to electronic medical records and  two-way video conferencing—to connect various system-wide stroke experts together to ensure timely decision making on the best stroke treatment options for ischemic stroke cases.

Screening and Prevention

Stroke is a condition that is largely preventable when lifestyle changes are implemented. Aside from maintaining a proper weight, eating a balanced diet and sleeping well, stroke may also be prevented by:

  • Reducing high blood pressure
  • Managing cholesterol levels
  • Controlling blood sugar
  • Identifying and managing irregular heart beat
  • Quitting smoking

Stroke Symptoms and Signs

If you have stroke symptoms, it is important to seek immediate medical attention. A good way to remember the most common stroke symptoms is the acronym FAST:

  • F (Face) – A sudden droopiness, tingling or weakness of one side of the face
  • A (Arm) – A sudden numbness or weakness of one arm, one leg (same side) or both arm and leg on one side of the body
  • S (Speech) – Sudden slurring of speech or trouble speaking and understanding language
  • T (Timing) – With the onset of any of the symptoms, timing is imperative. Call 911 and be asked to go to the nearest Primary Stroke Center.

Stroke Treatment Options

The first step in effective stroke treatment is an accurate diagnosis. From the moment a potential stroke patient comes through our doors, our specially trained stroke team is coordinating efforts to ensure that the best course of action is put into place immediately. This includes advanced cranial imaging (including CT and MRI scans) to determine the best stroke treatment options.

Care at NorthShore is always personalized, taking into account the type of stroke and the patient’s unique medical history and medical conditions to implement the best treatment possible.

Ischemic Stroke

For ischemic stroke, the goal is to restore blood flow to the brain as quickly as possible. This is done through the following treatments:

  • Medical / Drug therapy. Our team uses a clot-busting medication—an intravenous administration of a thrombolytic drug t-PA that effectively dissolves blood clots when given shortly after the onset of stroke symptoms.
  • Minimally Invasive treatment. For patients who are not candidates for t-PA drug therapy, our specialized stroke specialists may perform a minimally invasive intra-arterial clot removal procedure to safely open up blockages. Our team uses the latest tools for this sophisticated procedure, including:
    • Cutting-edge endovascular revascularization techniques such as retrievable stents (including the FDA-approved clot device, Solitaire FR), balloons and aspiration systems
    • Intra-arterial t-PA application

Hemorrhagic Stroke

For hemorrhagic stroke, our goal is to halt bleeding caused by the cerebral blood vessel as soon as possible and minimize the secondary and tertiary effects of the bleed. Treatment for hemorrhagic stroke includes:

  • Medical / Drug therapy. This treatment may be administered to help decrease the blood flow.
  • Surgical Options. Our vascular neurosurgeons, who are specially trained in neuroendovascular techniques, may perform an open or minimally-invasive procedure to repair damaged blood vessels and stop bleeding. Treatment may also include closing off the bleeding blood vessel with metal clips or inserting endovascular coils to stop the bleeding from within the vessel. This option is most commonly used for brain aneurysm and vessel malformations.

Stroke Rehabilitation and Recovery

Stroke recovery can be a process that extends beyond a patient’s initial treatment. As part of our comprehensive stroke program, our physiatry experts manage all of a patient’s rehabilitation needs. These dedicated physicians work in collaboration with physical, occupational and speech therapists to:

  • Maximize patients’ mobility
  • Improve their ability to perform activities of daily living
  • Treat speech and swallowing difficulties caused by stroke

Patients also benefit from the attention of Advanced Practice Nurses committed to the care of stroke patients and their families. These nurses offer thorough follow-up education and support both during and after stroke treatment.

Secondary Stroke Prevention

Our comprehensive stroke program touts long-term monitoring and one-on-one educational sessions to ensure that our patients’ individual needs are met to reduce the risk for first or subsequent strokes. Through our robust outpatient stroke care offering, our team provides:

  • Urgent stroke clinic access
  • Strong focus on secondary prevention
  • Leading-edge clinical trials with a rehabilitation component
  • Standardized assessments and evaluations according to best practices, supported by outcomes of the DodoNA research project

At NorthShore, we also have 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.

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.