About 795,000 Americans each year suffer from a new or recurrent stroke, according to the American Stroke Association. This means, on average, a stroke occurs every 40 seconds and accounts for one of every 18 deaths. Stroke kills more than 137,000 people a year, which means someone dies of stroke every four minutes.

The World Health Organization also states that stroke causes almost six million global deaths each year, making it the second-leading cause of death.

If you are experiencing chest pain or any other emergency, call 911 immediately

Comprehensive Stroke Center at Riverside Community Hospital

Specialists are working hard to change those statistics with help from the American Heart/Stroke Association and other healthcare organizations at Riverside Community Hospital’s stroke center.

Our stroke treatment

We offer 24/7 emergent diagnostic and treatment services for patients presenting with acute stroke. Through the program our dedicated stroke team, comprised of trained physicians and nurses, work together to identify stroke symptoms as quickly as possible beginning with emergency medical service workers in the field. By the time a patient arrives at the hospital, the stroke team is ready.

Stroke education

What is a stroke?

This term can mean different things to different people, and many myths about stroke exist. A stroke occurs when an area of the brain is deprived of blood flow. Just as a heart attack is a lack of blood flow to the heart, a stroke is an interruption in blood flow to the brain.

The signs and symptoms of stroke can be similar to other conditions, so the physician will perform diagnostic tests to determine if you are actually having a stroke. A CT scan or "CAT scan" is the first step in determining if you have had, or are having, a stroke and what type of stroke it may be.

Ischemic stroke

This is the most common type of stroke. Ischemic stroke occurs when an artery that supplies the brain is greatly narrowed or blocked. This can be caused by a buildup of plaque in the arteries. Plaque in the arteries can break off in small pieces or the rough edges can cause blood clots that eventually break free and become stuck in small blood vessels in the brain.

Hemorrhagic stroke

Hemorrhagic stroke accounts for only 13 percent of strokes and occurs less frequently than ischemic stroke, but is responsible for 30 percent of all stroke deaths.

Instead of a blockage, hemorrhagic stroke occurs when a blood vessel in the brain ruptures, allowing blood to flow freely into the skull and brain tissue. This blood flow causes damage to the brain cells. Some people have defects in the blood vessels of the brain that make this more likely.

Transient ischemic attacks (TIA)

TIA is often called a mini stroke. It is a temporary blockage of the artery. The symptoms of the TIA will go away within a twenty-four hour period, depending on which artery is blocked. TIA’s leave no permanent brain tissue damage.

When TIA is treated in the emergency room, it is often treated the same as stroke, because the symptoms can be very similar. TIA’s are a warning sign that should be discussed with your physician. More than 30 percent of people who suffer from TIA’s ultimately have a stroke.

Signs of a stroke

It's important to understand the signs and warnings of a stroke. That's why the Primary Stroke Center at Riverside Community's goal is to provide and increase education and awareness of stroke symptoms and preventive measures to both healthcare professionals and the community.

Know the warning signs of a stroke by remembering the acronym B.E.F.A.S.T.

Balance Does the person have a sudden loss of balance?

Eye Has the person lost vision in one or both eyes?

Face Ask the person to smile. Does one side of the face droop?

Arms Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm drift downward?

Speech Speech or language difficulty. Ask the person to repeat a simple sentence. Are the words slurred? Is the person confused? Can he/she repeat the sentence correctly?

Time Call 911 if the patient suddenly shows any of these symptoms or they are accompanied by loss of vision or double vision, loss of balance with dizziness or "the worst headache of his/her life." Other symptoms may include nausea, vomiting, dizziness and clumsiness. There may be a sudden loss of strength or sensation in the face, arm or leg or a combination of the three.

Stroke risk factors

There are many risk factors for stroke. In fact, close to 80 percent of strokes are preventable. Those that cannot be changed include age, family history, race, gender, certain blood disorders, prior history of stroke, TIA or heart attack. There are other risk factors that can be changed and at Riverside Community Hospital, we work with you and a team of dedicated professionals to help you reduce your risk of stroke. Risk factors that can be changed include:

  • High blood pressure
  • Tobacco use
  • Diabetes mellitus
  • Carotid or other artery disease
  • Atrial fibrillation
  • Heart disease
  • High cholesterol
  • Poor diet
  • Obesity
  • Physical inactivity
  • Sleep Apnea
  • Excessive alcohol intake
  • Illegal drug use

After a stroke

  • In-hospital rehabilitation is the first step
  • The type of rehab needed depends on the nature of the injuries
  • It may include:
    • Physical therapy
    • Speech therapy
    • Occupational therapy
  • After discharge:
    • Outpatient rehab may be needed
    • Caregiving support may be necessary

Preventing future strokes

After a stroke, the risk of suffering another one is increased. It’s important to:

  • Take medications as directed
  • Eat a healthy diet
  • Follow-up with a primary care physician to manage risk factors

Stroke support groups

For information on our free upcoming stroke awareness and prevention community lectures, call (951) 788-3463. If you or someone you know is a stroke survivor, join us on the fourth Thursday of every month for our free support groups. To register and reserve a space, call (951) 788-3463.