Emergency Care for Strokes

Emergency Stroke Care

Signs of a stroke tend to come on suddenly and in no particular order. The easiest way to check for stroke is to remember FAST, which stands for face droopiness, arm weakness, and speech difficulty. If those symptoms are present, you should call 9-1-1 immediately.

What are the Signs of a Stroke?

Chances are you won’t be able to recognize the signs of a stroke in yourself. It’s usually someone else who notices. Or you identify the signs in your loved one. It’s important for all members of your household to be familiar with the signs of a stroke, which include:

  • Face droopiness
  • Arm weakness
  • Difficulty speaking or slurred speech
  • Sudden numbness or weakness in the face, arm, or leg, especially on one side of the body
  • Sudden confusion or inability to understand speech
  • Sudden trouble seeing out of one or both eyes
  • Sudden dizziness and loss of balance or coordination
  • Sudden severe headache with no known cause

Know the signs of a stroke, save a life. Download our Pocketguide signs of a strokenow and keep it with you. See resource section at the top of this page.

What’s the Difference between an Ischemic Stroke and Hemorrhagic Stroke?

A stroke is a condition that cuts off blood flow and oxygen to the brain. When this happens, brain cells begin to die and brain damage can occur that causes disabilities and even death.

Most strokes occur when a blood vessel becomes blocked. This is called an ischemic stroke. Eighty-seven percent of strokes are ischemic strokes, according to the American Stroke Association.

Stroke also can be caused by a blood vessel that becomes weak and breaks, causing bleeding in the brain. These strokes are called hemorrhagic strokes.

What will Happen in the ER if I Come in with Signs of a Stroke?

Upon arrival at a Penn Highlands emergency room, you’ll be evaluated by one of our experienced ER doctors who will look for signs of a stroke. You’ll then have lab tests to check your blood sugar levels, check for infection, and determine if any of your blood chemicals are out of balance. You’ll then go for an imaging test to determine whether you are having an ischemic stroke or a hemorrhagic stroke. This is typically done using a CT scan or an MRI.

If you’re having an ischemic stroke and you’re within the three-hour window, you’ll likely be treated with a clot-busting drug. If your stroke is hemorrhagic, you’ll be taken to surgery to repair the torn blood vessel.

All of these steps will happen very quickly, typically within an hour of arriving at the emergency room. Time is critical in stroke care. Time is brain.

What does “Time Is Brain” Mean?

When a stroke occurs, time means everything. Approximately 2 million brain cells die every minute during a stroke. That’s why getting immediate care is crucial. When treatment is administered in the first three hours after signs of a stroke appear, it greatly reduces or even reverses the effects.

All Penn Highlands Healthcare emergency rooms are prepared to identify and treat strokes as quickly as possible. Sometimes, patients may be stabilized at a local hospital and then transported to the Primary Stroke Center at Penn Highlands DuBois.

Penn Highlands DuBois, an affiliate of Penn Highlands Healthcare, is a designated Primary Stroke Center for the region. This Joint Commission certification recognizes hospitals that have the infrastructure, staff and training to identify and treat patients with the most complex strokes. Learn more about the Penn Highlands Primary Stroke Center.

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