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Stroke Care


Think F.A.S.T.! Call 911 immediately.

Seeking treatment within the first three hours of a stroke can significantly reduce life-threatening or long-term complications.

  • Face: Ask the person to smile. Does one side of the face droop?
  • Arm: Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm drift downward?
  • Speech: Ask the person to repeat a simple sentence. Does the speech sound slurred or strange?
  • Time: If you observe any of these signs (independently or together), call 911 immediately!

Conemaugh East Hills
1450 Scalp Avenue, Suite 2100
Johnstown, PA 15904
Phone: (814) 269-5061


Stroke is an emergency "brain attack", cutting off vital blood flow and oxygen to the brain.

Ischemic stroke occurs when arteries are blocked by blood clots or by the gradual build-up of plaque and other fatty deposits. About 87% of all strokes are ischemic.

Hemorrhagic stroke occurs when a blood vessel in the brain breaks, leaking blood into the brain. Hemorrhagic strokes account for 13% of all strokes.


HealthBreak: Recognizing a Stroke


Risk Factors

Stroke can affect anyone regardless of age, gender, or ethnic background.

  • Age – risk of stroke doubles for each decade of life after 55
  • Family history – risk increases if a parent, sibling, or grandparent had a stroke
  • Race – African-Americans are at higher risk of stroke than Caucasians
  • Gender – Stroke affects more men than women, but more women than men die from stroke
  • Prior stroke, TIA, or heart attack – risk of stroke grows substantially if the patient has suffered any of these conditions

Additional Risk Factors

  • High blood pressure
  • Smoking
  • Diabetes
  • Carotid or other artery disease
  • Atrial fibrillation
  • Heart disease
  • Sickle cell disease
  • High blood cholesterol
  • Poor diet
  • Physical inactivity or excess weight

Symptoms

  • Sudden blurred or altered vision, especially on one side
  • Sudden weakness or numbness, especially on one side
  • Sudden difficulty in speaking or understanding speech
  • Sudden dizziness, imbalance, or an unexplained fall
  • Sudden, severe headache

Transient Ischemic Attack (TIA)

  • TIAs are brief episodes of stroke symptoms that resolve within minutes or hours, unlike stroke symptoms which can last longer
  • TIAs are a serious warning of an impending stroke
  • TIA symptoms are the same as for stroke
  • Up to 40% of patients who experience a TIA will have a full stroke; 5% will have a stroke within two days of the TIA; 10-15% will have a stroke within 90 days of a TIA
  • Management of TIAs focuses on preventing a future stroke

Diagnosing Stroke

Quick and coordinated response can limit the physical and neurological damage often associated with stroke, especially if patients who suspect they are having a stroke go to the Department of Emergency Medicine within three hours of first symptoms.

The Stroke Team at Conemaugh Memorial Medical Center will perform a CT scan to further evaluate for stroke. Once stroke is confirmed, neurologists will begin immediate treatment and continue to manage the patient’s care during the hospital stay and recovery process.

Using criteria established by the National Institutes of Health, Conemaugh's Department of Emergency Medicine specialists and Neurologists evaluate the severity of the stroke and determine if the patient is eligible for clot-busting medication for the treatment of stroke.


Treatment

  • Evaluation and care by vascular and neurology specialists
  • CT, MRI, and other diagnostic scans
  • Care by specially trained nursing teams on designated Neuro-Specialty Units
  • Frequent monitoring of swallowing and speech capabilities by nursing and Speech Therapy
  • Physical, Occupational, and Speech therapy by therapists educated to address the stroke patient's needs
  • Ongoing assessments of pneumonia risks and blood clot-related complications
  • Lifestyle changes including diet, smoking habits, and exercise
  • Regular visits with a primary care physician and follow-up visits with a Neurologist to manage risk factors such as diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, or excess weight
  • Surgery may be required to treat or remove stroke-related hemorrhages or to treat the underlying cause of a stroke, such as an aneurysm or intracerebral hemmorhage


Stroke Care Specialty Clinic Team

Working closely with the patient's family physician, Conemaugh's team includes:

  • Emergency room physicians
  • Neurologists
  • Neuroradiologists
  • Neurosurgeons
  • Cardiologists
  • Specially trained nurses

Conemaugh's team will diagnose the exact nature and extent of the patient's stroke. With advanced imaging equipment, physicians can identify precisely the brain areas that have been affected and determine the best course of treatment for each patient.

Stroke patients are strongly encouraged to follow up with physicians. Patients are at higher risk of stroke or recurring stroke after experiencing a stroke or transient ischemic attack (TIA).