What is a stroke
A stroke, also called brain attack, occurs when the blood supply to the brain is blocked. A stroke is an emergency and should be treated rapidly.
The lack of blood supply results in brain cell death and loss of brain function. Without a constant supply of oxygen and nutrients to the brain, cells will begin to die after just a few minutes. Brain cell death leads to a loss of brain function; possible impairments with movement, speech, thinking, memory and other bodily functions; paralysis; or even death.
Stroke is the fourth leading cause of death, ranking behind diseases of the heart, lungs, and all forms of cancer. According to the American Stroke Association (formally known as the National Stroke Association), strokes kill more than 137,000 Americans each year.
Types of strokes
Stroke can be caused by a thrombosis (blood clot), embolism (blockage) or hemorrhage (bleeding). They can be classified into two main categories:
- 87 percent are ischemic strokes. These strokes are caused by blockage of an artery. When blood carrying oxygen and nutrients to the brain is blocked, brain cells begin to die within minutes. Ischemic strokes can be further divided into two groups:
- Thrombotic strokes. These strokes are caused by a blood clot that develops in the blood vessels inside the brain.
- Embolic strokes. These strokes are caused by a blood clot or plaque debris that develops elsewhere in the body and then travels to one of the blood vessels in the brain via the bloodstream.
- 13 percent are hemorrhagic strokes. These strokes are caused by an aneurysm, or other blood vessel abnormality that has ruptured and is bleeding. When there is bleeding into the brain, cells and tissues do not receive enough oxygen and nutrients.
Before a thrombotic stroke, one or more "mini-strokes," called transient ischemic attacks, or TIAs, may occur. TIAs may last for a few minutes or up to 24 hours and are often a warning sign that a stroke may occur. Although usually mild and brief, the symptoms caused by a TIA are similar to those caused by a stroke. Emergency treatment should be sought for anyone experiencing the symptoms of a TIA.
At Barnes-Jewish St. Peters Hospital, we offer the most comprehensive stroke care in St. Charles County.
tPA – (tissue plasminogen activator) is the only FDA-approved medication for acute ischemic stroke. It is a treatment available at BJSPH and given to patients in the first few hours after stroke symptoms occur. tPA can be given by IV, usually through a vein in the arm, or injected directly to the site of the clot.
Benefits of tPA include:
- Less neurological damage
- Faster recovery
- Shorter in-hospital stay
Once a patient arrives in our Emergency Department, diagnosis-to-treatment time is approximately 45 minutes for tPA administration. According to the American Stroke Association, the average for centers around the country is as high as 96 minutes.
BJSPH is the only hospital in St. Charles County to offer thrombectomy, a breakthrough treatment option that removes a blood clot in the brain to restore blood flow.
Thrombectomy is one of the latest treatment options available in the treatment of stroke, and it’s now available in the community, close to home. It is a minimally-invasive procedure performed at BJSPH. Until the introduction of thrombectomy, tPA was the only treatment available for stroke treatment.
Patients who qualify for the procedure are much more likely to have better outcomes, and improved quality of life including functional independence, after their stroke compared to the patients that don't receive that procedure.
After rapid evaluation of a patient in our Emergency Department, the thrombectomy team is activated. Thrombectomy is performed in the interventional radiology room, a procedure suite at BJSPH. During the procedure, a catheter is placed inside an artery in the groin or wrist and guided to the blood clot. Next, a stent retriever is inserted into the catheter to remove the clot and restore blood flow.
Thrombectomy has been found to be beneficial for stroke patients over the past five to 10 years. For patients who qualify for the procedure, thrombectomy can make a tremendous difference.
Within minutes telestroke technology brings stroke specialists from Barnes-Jewish Hospital and Washington University Physicians right to the bedside of patients at Barnes-Jewish St. Peters Hospital – 24/7.
Telestroke works through a remote consultation (by camera or by phone) at a patient’s bedside providing the local stroke team immediate contact to discuss treatment options with stroke specialists.
Recent evidence shows that having the telestroke technology provides patients:
- higher rates of receiving potentially life-saving therapies
- access to a higher level of stroke care
- improved outcomes in long-term stroke recovery
Telestroke is not available at every hospital, which is why this advancement is at BJSPH in St. Charles County. This technology will help save precious time in the diagnosis and treatment of stroke. Telestroke is transforming healthcare in the St. Charles County community allowing patients to remain close to home and family – with no delay in care.
We offer inpatient physical therapy, speech therapy and occupational therapy programs for our patients who are recovering from a stroke. Our therapists are trained in the care of stroke patients and provide one-on-one individualized care. We also offer outpatient therapy if needed.
Stroke support class
For patients and family members of those who have experienced a stroke, we offer a monthly free support classes.