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Know the signs. Call 9-1-1 immediately.

In the United States, someone has a stroke every 40 seconds, and someone dies from a stroke every four minutes. It’s a very serious and a very common problem. Every minute a stroke goes untreated, nearly 2 million brain cells die. That’s why everyone needs to know the signs of stroke. You need to be able to identify when a stroke is happening, so you can call 9-1-1 immediately. Knowing the signs could save a life.

Remembering the acronym FAST is the simplest way to identify a stroke.

  • Face: Is one side of the face drooping down?
  • Arm weakness: Can both arms be held up without one of them dropping down?
  • Speech difficulty: Is speech slurred or not understandable?
  • Time: Note when the stroke symptoms began.

If you spot ANY of these symptoms, call 9-1-1. Emergency transport is the fastest route to treatment.

Do you know how to test if somebody is having a stroke? Click each letter to find out.


Experiencing a stroke? Don't drive yourself. Call 9-1-1.

If you or a loved one is exhibiting stroke symptoms, do not drive to the emergency room yourself. You may think this will get you to the hospital more quickly than waiting for an ambulance to arrive, but this can actually increase the length of time it takes to get the care a stroke patient needs. Calling 9-1-1 is the fastest way to get treated.

The emergency transport crew can notify the nearest OSF HealthCare hospital to prepare for your arrival, saving you precious minutes. The specialty stroke care needed is ready when the stroke patient arrives, and the emergency department knows where to send the patient immediately.

How much do you know about stroke? Take the quiz to test your knowledge!

Sudden trouble walking is a sign of a stroke.

If stroke symptoms suddenly stop, I don't need to call 911.

Stroke only affects our older population.

Some strokes can be prevented.


Know Your Care Options

You should never ignore stroke symptoms. If you or someone else is having stroke symptoms, you should call 911 immediately even if the symptoms suddenly stop. Stroke requires prompt recognition and emergency care.

OSF HealthCare is committed to providing expert stroke care throughout our Ministry. Our multidisciplinary stroke teams are always prepared to provide fast, effective care the moment you arrive to any of our hospitals.

Our stroke centers have a Comprehensive, Primary or Acute Stroke-Ready designation. Primary Stroke Centers have designated stroke units. Acute Stroke-Ready Centers administer tPA to eligible stroke patients and have stroke experts onsite or via TeleHealth, which connects doctors and patients through the use of digital technology, 24/7. You can also feel confident knowing all of our hospitals are connected to a Comprehensive Stroke Center offering the highest level of care.

> Learn more about a Comprehensive Stroke Center.

Comprehensive Stroke Center certification recognizes hospitals that meet standards to treat the most complex stroke cases.

  • Ability to treat all types of strokes, with every known treatment 24 hours a day, seven days a week
  • Highly trained, highly specialized care team
  • Advanced imaging capabilities

Patients from any OSF stroke center benefit from access to our Comprehensive Stroke Center.

> Review our available treatments options.
  • Intravenous t-PA: If the stroke symptoms started less than three hours ago, the doctors may administer a "clot busting" drug called t-PA (tissue plasminogen activator). This drug may be successful in dissolving the blockage in the brain artery.
  • Intra-arterial Interventions: If the stroke symptoms started less than 6 hours ago, highly trained doctors called neuro interventional surgeons can place a catheter in the brain arteries to look for the blockage and administer the "clot busting" medication directly at the site of the blockage or remove the clot from the artery with mechanical devices.
  • Decompressive craniectomy: Surgery to remove part of the skull to allow room for the affected area of the brain to swell.
  • Aneurysm Clipping: Surgery that cuts off the blood flow into an aneurysm. Under general anesthesia, a section of the skull is removed and the aneurysm is located. A neurosurgeon uses a microscope to isolate the blood vessel with the aneurysm and places a small, metal, clothespin-like clip on the aneurysm's neck, halting its blood supply. The clip remains in the person and prevents the risk of future bleeding from the aneurysm. The piece of the skull is then replaced and the scalp is closed.
  • Endovascular Embolization/Aneurysm Coiling: Under general anesthesia, a neuro interventional surgeon inserts a hollow plastic tube (a catheter) into an artery (usually in the groin) and threads it using angiography through the body to the site of the aneurysm. Using a guided wire, detachable coils (spirals of platinum wire) are passed through the catheter and released inside the aneurysm. The coils fill the aneurysm, block it from circulation, and cause the blood to clot within the aneurysm, which effectively destroys the aneurysm. An angiogram will be repeated several times over a person's life to monitor the aneurysm and coils. (National Institute of Neurological Disorder and Stroke, 2010)
  • Ventriculostomy: The blood from a ruptured aneurysm and the swelling from injured brain cells can both cause a buildup of fluids within the skull that can cause further brain injury or even death. A ventriculostomy is a drainage tube that is placed through the skull and secured within the brain to allow the fluid to be carefully removed and the pressure within the skull to be monitored.
  • Vasospasm Management: Blood vessels that have an aneurysm that has bled, may suddenly constrict (become narrow). This is called vasospasm and critically decreases the amount of blood flow through the vessel and may cause a new stroke. Vasospasm is treated with intravenous fluids and blood pressure medicines. Sometimes it can be treated by the neuro interventional surgeon during an angiogram by threading a catheter to the blood vessel and injecting medicine to relax the spasm.
  • Our Stroke Centers


    Know the Risks

    Stroke is the number one cause of adult disability and the fifth leading cause of death in the United States. Approximately 80 percent of strokes are preventable by knowing the risk factors, warning signs and what to do when experiencing a stroke.

    Stroke doesn't just affect our older population. It can affect anyone at any age. You must be prepared to recognize the signs of a stroke.

    If you have any of the following risk factors, you are at a higher risk for stroke:

    • High blood pressure
    • High cholesterol
    • Diabetes
    • Smoking
    • Atrial fibrillation – irregular heartbeat
    • Sedentary lifestyle
    • Sleep apnea


    To learn your personal risk for a stroke, take our free profiler. Free Stroke Risk Profiler