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Acute Stroke Treatment

Highly Specialized Stroke Team

Our highly specialized Stroke Center team collaborates at all stages of acute treatment—from the Emergency Department to discharge.

Emergency Department

A stroke neurologist and emergency physician are on the front line in our Emergency Department whenever a stroke patient arrives—24 hours a day, 7 days a week. And they're backed by imaging and lab technicians and nurses, all with special expertise in stroke. Our acute stroke care protocol ensures that patients are seen by a physician within 15 minutes of arriving in the emergency room, have imaging within 25 minutes of arrival, and interpretation within 45 minutes of arrival.

  • As soon as we're notified that a possible stroke victim is being transported to the Highland Hospital Emergency Department, a special code is activated and the people on our "stroke code response team" swing into action.
  • When the patient arrives, an immediate neurologic history and physical examination is carried out. Patients are closely watched for signs of increased pressure on the brain. Elevated blood sugars are aggressively treated (an elevated blood sugar is toxic to the oxygen-deprived but still-surviving brain cells). Elevated temperatures are decreased (fever can increase the size of a stroke). Severe anemia is treated, providing more red blood cells to increase oxygen delivery to the brain.
  • Laboratory studies including CBC with platelet count and coagulation studies are performed as well as imaging studies such as CT angiography and MR imaging to determine the type, cause, severity, and location of the stroke.
  • Physicians make the decision about the appropriate care for the patient. Ischemic stroke treatments include clot-busting medications such as t-PA (tissue plasminogen activator), surgeries, and interventional neuroradiology. Hemorrhagic stroke treatments include general medications and surgery. If an interventional treatment is needed, the stroke team neurologist consults with a neurosurgeon who performs the procedure.

Dedicated Stroke Inpatient Unit

When stroke patients are admitted to the hospital, they go to our dedicated stroke inpatient unit. Our interdisciplinary stroke care team is headed by a stroke center neurologist. Studies have shown that:

  • Stroke patients who receive care in a specialized stroke unit have decreased rates of death, decreased lengths of stay, and increased rates of being able to live at home after the stroke.
  • Stroke patients who are treated primarily by a neurologist have better outcomes, both short-term and long-term.

The Goals of the Stroke Team

  • Stabilize the patient in a monitored environment where rapid interventions can be made when needed.
  • Perform more extensive tests, if necessary, to seek to understand why the stroke occurred and what can be done to prevent another.
  • Begin a treatment regimen to reduce stroke related complications and help patients obtain the best possible functional outcome.