Stroke is a leading cause of death and long-term disability in the United States. In many cases, however, strokes don’t have to be disabling or deadly. Knowing the warning signs of a stroke and acting quickly may help you or your loved one escape the damaging effects of a “brain attack.”
The University of Kansas Health System’s stroke team is among the best qualified and best equipped in the nation to care for people experiencing stroke. Our team is the region's largest, and our technology and contribution to research efforts ensure we provide the latest diagnostic and treatment options, including inpatient and outpatient stroke rehabilitation care.
What is a stroke?
A stroke is a medical emergency that’s caused by an interruption of your brain’s blood supply. When the blood supply to the brain is reduced, your brain tissue can’t get vital access to oxygen and nutrients. This causes rapid death of brain cells.
Early intervention is critical to reduce the possibility of serious complications from stroke, including brain damage. The most important thing to remember is to act fast if you or a loved one is experiencing any stroke symptoms. In fact, F.A.S.T. will help you remember some of the signs:
- F – Face: Sudden numbness in the face, especially on one side of the body. That side of the face may droop. Ask the person to smile.
- A – Arm: Sudden arm weakness or numbness. Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm drift downward?
- S – Speech: Sudden slurred speech or difficulty understanding words or simple sentences. It may also be difficult to swallow. Ask the person to repeat a simple sentence.
- T – Time: Call 911 and get to the closest Emergency Room immediately if the person shows any of these symptoms. Remember, time lost is brain lost.
Types of strokes
There are several types of strokes:
When a stroke begins, brain cells die at the astounding rate of 1.9 million per minute.
Stroke symptoms and risks
You may recognize a stroke by its distinctive signs and symptoms:
- Paralysis or sudden numbness, weakness or loss of movement in the face, arms or legs, especially if on just one side of the body (though it can occur on both)
- Sudden confusion or trouble speaking, including the slurring of words, or difficulty understanding
- Sudden head pain with unknown cause
- Sudden issues with balance or difficulty walking, dizziness or loss of stability or coordination
- Vision issues, such as sudden onset of complete or partial blindness or double vision in one or both eyes
If you suspect that you or someone near you is experiencing a stroke, call 911 immediately.
There are a number of factors that can help predict your risk for stroke, many of which you can modify and manage:
There are also risk factors for stroke that you can’t control:
- Age (65 and older)
- Heredity (family history of stroke)
- Race (African Americans and Hispanics are at higher risk than Caucasians and Asians)
- Sex (women are at higher risk than men)
Do you know your numbers?
Stroke diagnosis and screening
Advanced Comprehensive Stroke Center
We were the fourth facility in the nation to receive Advanced Comprehensive Stroke Center designation. This reflects our commitment to the highest standards of care and ensures you receive the latest innovations and most effective treatments to overcome stroke.
Superior stroke care requires the right providers using the latest treatments and technologies. As part of an academic medical center, The University of Kansas Health System offers advanced medical and technological treatment options for stroke care:
- IV tissue plasminogen activator. Commonly called a "clot buster," this medication has long been the industry-standard approach to dissolving blood clots within hours of the stroke's occurrence.
- Quantitative postprocessing software (RAPID). This program reviews brain scans and helps identify people most likely to benefit from embolectomy, the removal of a clot blocking circulation. This assists the care team in making the best clinical decisions in working to preserve brain tissue.
- Stent retrievers. These innovative catheters are inserted into an artery in the groin and guided to the brain, where they grasp the clot for retrieval and removal.
Our stroke team is dedicated to taking care of acute stroke cases referred from anywhere in the region. It is not unusual for a helicopter and ambulance to arrive at the same time, each bringing a stroke patient who needs immediate care to our ER. In Cambridge Tower A, two biplane rooms, out of three total, enable us to care for at least two stroke patients simultaneously, whether they need stenting, clot retrieval or aneurysm coiling.
The results of a recent clinical trial underscore our team's leadership in stroke care. We were among just 26 contributing sites for the DAWN trial. It yielded results poised to change the standard of stroke care forever. Findings indicated new opportunities to extend the critical window for intervention up to 24 hours after symptom onset for appropriate patients.
Michael Abraham, MD: Prior to the results of this trial being published, patients who arrived at the hospital after 8 hours and the onset of symptoms of a stroke, whether it be they woke up with a stroke or they had an unknown onset of the time, we were, technically, unable to properly treat them because we do not have sufficient evidence supporting it. Now, since this trial, we can now extend this time window up to 24 hours in appropriate stroke patients.
Dr. Abraham: It, basically, tells us how much tissue has already stroked out in the brain versus the brain tissue that's at risk for stroking out. So, this study allows us to evaluate a patient's brain seeing do they have a large area of the brain that we can save. It is very helpful for multiple reasons. One, all those images get sent as a de-identified image to my cell phone... to anybody who's on the stroke team. So, wherever I'm at, I can see those images. I don't have to be at my home on a computer or at the hospital computer. I can see is there a larger brain tissue that I can possibly save? If there is and we will bring them to the angiography angiography suite immediately and proceed with intervention.
Why choose us for stroke treatment
- Cambridge Tower A, our newest facility, houses the latest technologies required to quickly and effectively stop strokes and save lives. We can provide interventional stroke care in 11 surgical operating suites and benefit from neurology and cardiac imaging via CT, MRI, angiography and more.
- Our leading care providers are also leading researchers. We are dedicated not only to caring for stroke survivors today, but to driving research we hope will lead to more and better treatment options. The nation's top consortiums invite our organization to participate in clinical trials. It means more treatment options for more stroke survivors.
- The University of Kansas Health System was the 4th facility in the nation to receive Advanced Comprehensive Stroke Center designation. This reflects our commitment to the highest standards of care and ensures you receive the latest innovations and most effective treatments to overcome stroke.
- We have the largest stroke team in the region. Our staff are all specialty-trained to care for patients with the most complex strokes. They are fellowship-trained, board-eligible or fellowship-trained, board-certified neurologists.
- We provide 24/7 coverage by fellowship-trained stroke subspecialists, including vascular neurosurgeons, neurointerventionalists, stroke neurologists, neurointensivists – who staff our dedicated, 28-bed neuro ICU – and neuroradiologists. This means the most experienced, most focused physicians are ready to support stroke care every moment of every day.
- We have earned several of the field's most esteemed honors. We are certified by The Joint Commission as an Advanced Comprehensive Stroke Center. There is no higher distinction and no deeper commitment. We have also received the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association's Get With The Guidelines honors for stroke care continuously since the program began. What these awards mean to you is that there is no more experienced and no more dedicated available team than ours prepared to stop stroke and help achieve the best possible recovery.
Your stroke care team
Our stroke team is among the best qualified and best equipped in the nation to care for people experiencing strokes. Our team is the region's largest, and our technology and contribution to research efforts ensure we provide the latest diagnostic and treatment options.
We take an interdisciplinary approach to stroke care. It is critical to address the physical, cognitive and emotional effects of stroke on people and their families. Our care team includes:
- Advanced practice nurses, who assist with stroke evaluation and care
- Occupational therapists, who help to recover or improve the ability to perform daily functions
- Physical therapists, who help stroke survivors exercise to build strength and regain motor skills
- Speech therapists, who address speech challenges that may occur after stroke
- Stroke neurologists board-certified in vascular neurology and available 24/7 to lead immediate treatment efforts