Stroke Care

Content medically reviewed by: Venkata Dandamudi, MD and Vikram Jadhav, MBBS

Essentia Health's multi-disciplinary stroke team provides timely treatment for all types of stroke such as ischemic stroke, hemorrhagic stroke, TIA, and other kinds of specialty brain care including aneurysms.

What is a Stroke?

A stroke or “brain attack” occurs when the flow of blood to the brain is cut off. When this happens, brain cells begin to die and abilities controlled by the affected area of the brain are impacted. These abilities include speech, movement and memory.

Signs and Symptoms of Stroke

Use the acronym BEFAST to spot common signs of stroke. It could save your life or the life of a loved one.

  • Balance – Does the person have sudden loss of balance?
  • Eyes – Has the person lost vision in one or both eyes?
  • Face – Smile. Does one side of the face droop?
  • Arms – Raise both arms. Does one arm drift downward?
  • Speech – Repeat a simple phrase. Is speech slurred or strange?
  • Time – If you observe any of these signs, call 911 right away.

If you're experiencing stroke symptoms, call 911 immediately. Do not drive yourself.

What to Do if You're Having a Stroke

If you're experiencing stroke symptoms, CALL 911 IMMEDIATELY.

Time is brain - every minute the brain is without oxygen, millions of brain cells die.

Clot busting drugs can only be given in a short amount of time after symptom onset – so get care immediately.

Call 911 and do not drive yourself. The ambulance knows where to bring you and can alert the hospital so the stroke team is ready to act quickly.

Types of Stroke

There are several different types of stroke, all of which require medical evaluation and treatment.

Ischemic Stroke

This type of stroke is the most common and is caused by blood clots blocking blood flow to the brain. It occurs when an artery in the brain becomes blocked.

Hemorrhagic Stroke

Hemorrhagic strokes are caused when a weakened blood vessel bursts. These ruptures are most often caused by untreated high blood pressure.

Transient ischemic attack (TIA)

A transient ischemic attack (TIA), also called a warning stroke, is caused by a temporary clot. A TIA is a major warning sign that needs to be taken seriously as it may be a precursor to a full-scale stroke.

Streamlined Stroke Diagnosis

When you arrive at an Essentia emergency room with stroke symptoms, your care team assesses your condition right away so you can get the right treatment as soon as possible. To diagnose your stroke, your doctor will:

  • Ask about your symptoms
  • Physically examine you
  • Review your medical records
  • Order an imaging test, such as a computed tomography (CT) scan within 10 minutes of arrival

If you come to the hospital by ambulance, paramedics begin evaluating your condition and communicating with Essentia doctors while you’re en route so we can expedite your care.

Timely Stroke Treatment and Medication

Your stroke treatment will depend on the type of stroke you are experiencing and how much time has passed since your symptoms started.

If you’re a candidate for a clot-busting medication, such as tissue plasminogen activator (tPA) or tenecteplase (TNK), rely on us to get you the medication quickly.

If you’d benefit from a surgical treatment that’s not available at your location, depend on us to quickly and safely transport you to the nearest hospital that performs the most effective treatment for your condition.

Stroke Specialists

Stroke treatment is complex and requires many different specialists, including:

If you or a loved one show signs and symptoms of stroke, call 911 for immediate medical attention. Prompt treatment may save your life and help reduce long-term effects of a stroke.

Stroke Thrombectomy

Watch a video about the new minimally invasive surgery, known as the stroke thrombectomy, that benefits stroke patients.

Medical Insight: Stroke Thrombectomy Video Transcript

(SPEECH)
SPEAKER: Welcome Medical Insight, a weekly health care feature brought to you by the experts at Essentia Health. Here's your host, Maureen Talarico.

(DESCRIPTION)
The Essentia Health logo appears, consisting of three leaves in a circle. Text, Essentia Health. Medical Insight. Maureen Talarico, Host.

(SPEECH)
MAUREEN TALARICO: Today on Medical Insight, interventional neurologist, Dr. Vikram Jadhav talks about strokes and the new minimally invasive surgery known as the stroke thrombectomy.

(DESCRIPTION)
Text, Dr. Vikram Jadhav -- M B B S, Interventional Neurologist. He sits in a hospital room wearing a white coat with his name embroidered on the front.

(SPEECH)
VIKRAM JADHAV: An acute stroke is an instantaneous development of stroke symptoms in which a person can have paralysis on one side of the body, slurred speech, loss of language function, inability to communicate, and in rare instances even loss of consciousness, which can eventually lead to death. MAUREEN TALARICO: One current treatment is delivering a clot busting medication, but the medication can only be given up to four hours after stroke symptoms begin. A new catheter-based treatment known as the strokes run back to me is conducted in a neuroangiography suite and is available to patients between 8 and 24 hours from when symptoms begin.

(DESCRIPTION)
Gloved hands prepare the catheter tube. An X-ray of a clot. A surgeon using monitors to navigate.

(SPEECH)
VIKRAM JADHAV: A stroke from back to me, essentially means putting a catheter through the groin, going up to the brain blood vessel where the clot is located to capture the clot, take it out, restore blood supply to the brain, and prevent massive stroke symptoms, which allows faster healing for the patient. MAUREEN TALARICO: According to Dr. Jadhav, the advantage of being part of the stroke team is the continuum of care.

(DESCRIPTION)
Two masked surgeons wearing blue scrubs watch a set of six monitors, while one of them navigates the catheter to the clot with their hands.

(SPEECH)
VIKRAM JADHAV: Because in stroke time is everything.

(DESCRIPTION)
An X-ray of the catheter moving through the body towards the clot.

(SPEECH)
The more time you are able to save, the more brain you are able to salvage and preserve functions and have a good quality of life after having a stroke. MAUREEN TALARICO: For Medical Insight, I'm Maureen Talarico. SPEAKER: To learn more about this topic, call our experts at 786-3107.

(DESCRIPTION)
The Essentia Health logo appears, consisting of three leaves in a circle. Text, Medical Insight, 218-786-3107, Essentia Health. org

Ways to Prevent Stroke

According the American Stroke Association, 80% of strokes are preventable. Reducing your risk of stroke is key. Ahead, learn what your risk factors are and find out which ones you can control.

What's My Stroke Risk?

Everyone has risk factors for stroke. Some risk factors you can't control but there are many things you can do to lower your risk.

Unchangeable Risk Factors of Stroke

  • Age - people 55 and older are more likely to have a stroke
  • Race - African Americans have a 60% higher stroke risk than white people
  • Diabetes - having diabetes increases stroke risk
  • Previous TIA or Stroke - you're much more likely to have a stroke if you've had a stroke or TIA in the past
  • Family History - If someone in your family has had a stroke, your risk of stroke is higher

Controllable Risk Factors of Stroke

  • High blood pressure
  • Heart disease
  • High red blood cell count
  • Smoking
  • Drinking too much alcohol
  • Not getting enough physical activity
  • Obesity
  • Atrial fibrillation
  • Hight cholesterol

Learn your risk for stroke by reviewing the American Stroke Association’s Stroke Risk Scorecard. Share the results with your primary care provider.

Lifestyle Changes

Even if you have other risk factors, the good news is, there is a lot you can do to reduce your stroke risk.

Here are some lifestyles changes you can make, to help reduce your risk of stroke.

  • Lose weight - extra weight puts a strain on your whole circulatory system. Carrying extra weight, makes you more likely to have high cholesterol, high blood pressure, or diabetes. These increase your stroke risk.
  • Eat healthy - choosing health foods can reduce your blood pressure, control your weight, increase energy levels, and increase how well some medicines work.
  • Quit smoking - Smoking thickens your blood and makes it more likely that a clot will form. It also increases plaque buildup in your arteries. If you smoke, your risk is twice the risk of a nonsmoker.
  • Drink less alcohol - Many studies show a link between drinking alcohol and strokes. Drinking too much alcohol increases blood pressure and the risk of stroke.
  • Exercise - Exercise improves heart function and reduces cholesterol. It also lowers blood pressure and your resting heard rate - lowering your stroke risk. If you've had a stroke, exercise improves strength, balance, endurance, and long-term brain health.
  • Reduce stress - Stress hormones increase blood pressure. When those hormones are around long-term, it can lead to high blood pressure. High blood pressure is the leading cause of stroke. Stress hormones can also lead to diabetes, hardening of the arteries, and heart disease, all of which are stroke risk factors.

Stroke Recovery & Rehabilitation

Our care team that starts planning for your recovery as soon as you’re admitted to the emergency room. You may work with a care coordinator, patient navigator, social worker, or nurse to decide where to go when you leave the hospital and help you connect with resources in your hometown community.

Throughout your stroke recovery, find rehabilitation and care services to meet your needs at Essentia. Learn about:

Stroke Rehabilitation Team

Your rehabilitation team consists of many different therapists such as:

Physical Therapists (PT)

Physical therapists will visit with you during your recovery to help you regain your strength. They will help you walk, exercise, and regain muscle strength.

Occupational Therapists (OT)

Occupational therapists are trained to help you do daily tasks. If you have trouble with movement after your stroke, they'll work with you to learn new ways to do everyday tasks.

Speech Language Pathologists (SLP)

After a stroke, some people have a hard time speaking or swallowing. A speech therapist will work with you to regain muscle strength. They'll also suggest a safe diet for you. If speech is hard for you, they will give you tools to help you speak and have people understand what you say.

Life After Stroke

If you've survived a stroke, there is hope and a road forward. Recovering from a stroke will take time. Having a support system of family and caregivers is especially important.

Caregivers are essential in stroke recovery. If you're the caregiver for a loved on who's had a stroke, make sure you lean on your health care team to get the information you need.

Our stroke and rehabilitation teams are here to answer questions and provide resources to help you. It's important to know that you're not alone. Get connected by attending a Stroke Support Group.

Stroke After Effects & Symptoms

After a stroke, there are many symptoms you may experience. Which symptoms you have, depends on where the stroke happened in your brain.

Aphasia

If a stroke affects the part of your brain that knows language, you may develop aphasia after the stroke. Aphasia is a language disorder. If affects the ability to communicate. It does not affect intelligence - even if a person's speech is jumbled or hard to understand.

Emotional Changes

Survivors of stroke react to their diagnosis in many ways. Some may feel extreme sadness.

The most common emotional reactions to stroke are:

  • frustration
  • worry
  • anger
  • not caring any more
  • giving up
  • depression or sadness

Stroke causes two common emotional changes:

  • Emotional liability - Rapid mood changes, physical reactions that don't match an emotion (example - laughing when you actually feels sad), prolonged emotions (laughing or crying for much longer that you'd expect).
  • Depression - You may feel sad or lack motivation. Signs of depression include:
    • sadness
    • hopelessness or helplessness
    • crankiness
    • changes in eating or sleeping

It is natural to be emotional after a stroke, so try to be patient with yourself. Talking about your experience and accepting your feelings about the stroke may help you work through these emotions.

Talk to your doctor if you're experiencing feelings of depression. There are ways they can help you.

Fatigue

It is common to feel more tired after a stroke. You may lack energy or strength. There are many reasons you may be feeling fatigued. Some may be related to poor sleeping or eating, or lack of exercise.

It's important to talk with your health care team to find out what may be causing your fatigue.

Stroke Follow-up Care

Our stroke team will reach out to you after your stroke to check-in with you.

Your follow-up care will likely include a combination of rehabilitation. Our stroke neurologists or advanced practitioners, physiatrists, therapists, and nurses will all be a part of your follow-up care.

Experiencing Stroke Symptoms?

If you're experiencing stroke-like symptoms, call 911 immediately.

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