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Stroke

A stroke is a medical emergency where blood flow to the brain is either reduced or stopped, depriving brain tissue of essential oxygen and nutrients. A stroke may cause loss in brain function and affect movement and speech.

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Emergency stroke care in Gainesville

HCA Florida North Florida Hospital offers fast, dedicated care to patients coming to our hospital with stroke symptoms.

We are equipped with the resources and technology needed to quickly diagnose a stroke and begin lifesaving treatment. If you or someone you know is experiencing a stroke, it is good to know that expert emergency care is available in your community. Emergency stroke treatment is available in our hospital's main emergency room (ER) and at our two freestanding emergency locations.

Our stroke treatments and services

Seeking emergency care is crucial when you identify stroke symptoms because time is of the essence.

Comprehensive stroke care

Our emergency care locations are always ready to provide evidence-based stroke treatment. We partner with local emergency medical services (EMS) personnel, so we know when to call a "stroke alert" to prepare for a patient's arrival.

In addition to calling "stroke alerts," our team also responds to these alerts in other areas of our hospital. If a patient elsewhere in our facility is experiencing stroke symptoms, we are able to immediately respond, assess the situation and provide expedited treatment. We have staff members on-site 24/7 who are trained to respond in emergency stroke situations.

We are recognized by DNV-GL as a Comprehensive Stroke Center. This recognition reflects our dedication to offering evidence-based care to our patients.

Coordinated stroke treatment

Our hospital follows a program for stroke care that is designed to promote a full recovery. This includes:

  • Advanced imaging and diagnostics, including magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), computerized tomography (CT) and neurointerventional biplane angiography
  • Inpatient rehabilitation, including physical therapy, occupational therapy and speech therapy
  • Telemedicine services available for real-time evaluation by a neurologist
  • Emergency care clinicians and support staff with training in acute stroke care
  • Neurocritical care-trained neurologists and cerebrovascular neurosurgeons and intensivists
  • Nurses and staff trained in neurological care and vascular interventional procedures

Interventional stroke treatments

We perform the following interventional procedures to treat strokes:

  • Brain aneurysm coiling — This procedure is performed to block blood flow to an aneurysm that is at risk for rupturing, which could cause a hemorrhagic stroke.
  • Carotid endarterectomy — This procedure removes plaque buildup from inside a carotid artery to restore normal blood flow. It is a preventive procedure for patients who are already experiencing symptoms of reduced blood flow and at risk for an ischemic stroke.
  • Cerebral arterial stenting — This procedure is done to widen an artery and place a stent to keep the artery open. This keeps the artery from narrowing due to plaque buildup and helps prevent an ischemic stroke.
  • Tissue plasminogen activator (tPA) — This is a clot-busting drug that breaks up blood clots causing an ischemic stroke.
Ischemic stroke treatment

The "standard of care" in treating an ischemic stroke is a medication called tissue plasminogen activator (tPA). This drug works quickly to dissolve blood clots and restore proper blood flow to the brain. When a patient with stroke symptoms arrives, we quickly assess to determine if they are able to receive tPA. Not every patient is a candidate for tPA, as it must be administered soon following the onset of stroke symptoms.

If a patient is eligible for tPA, an intravenous (IV) catheter will be placed and treatment will begin within minutes. Every second counts when treating a stroke because brain cells continue to die as the patient goes without treatment. Our time between patient entrance to the emergency room and administration of lifesaving treatment is less than the national average.

Mechanical thrombectomy

If a patient is not able to receive tPA for an ischemic stroke, our specialists offer an alternative treatment option that is available up to 24 hours after the onset of stroke symptoms. This treatment is a neurointerventional procedure called a mechanical thrombectomy.

This image-guided, minimally invasive procedure combines advanced technology, neurological imaging and endovascular techniques to restore blood flow. This is done by using a system of tiny catheters that are specially equipped to remove blood clots.

Once a blood clot is removed, blood begins to flow freely again. This allows the previously blocked portion of the brain to receive the blood supply it needs to survive.

Understanding stroke

A stroke is a serious medical condition that requires immediate emergency care, which is why being knowledgeable about stroke can help save a life.

Types of stroke

A stroke is caused by interrupted blood flow to part of the brain. When blood flow is stopped, that part of the brain can’t receive oxygen and other nutrients. This causes brain cells to die and can result in permanent damage, even death.

There are different types of strokes, including:

  • Hemorrhagic stroke: when a blood vessel ruptures and blood leaks into the brain
  • Ischemic stroke: when a blood clot blocks blood flow to part of the brain
  • Transient ischemic attack (TIA) or "mini stroke": when there is temporary interruption of blood flow to part of the brain

Stroke symptoms

It’s important to be able to recognize signs of a stroke so you can act quickly when they occur. Common stroke symptoms include sudden:

  • Confusion
  • Dizziness
  • Loss of balance or coordination
  • Numbness, weakness or paralysis of the face, arm or leg (especially on one side of the body)
  • Severe headache with no known cause (may be accompanied by pain in the face or stiffness in the neck)
  • Trouble seeing in one or both eyes (such as blurred, blackened or double vision)
  • Trouble speaking
  • Trouble walking

The symptoms of a TIA are the same as those of a stroke, but they usually last only a few minutes. If you think you are experiencing a stroke, don't drive. Call 911.


Stroke risk factors

There are certain factors and conditions that may put you at risk for stroke. However, some of those conditions can often be treated. Some of the major risk factors for stroke include:

  • Being 55 years old and older
  • Having a family history of stroke
  • Having atrial fibrillation (AFib)
  • Having diabetes
  • Having heart disease
  • Having high blood pressure
  • Having high cholesterol
  • Having poor circulation

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