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Know the Facts

Stroke, also known as a brain attack, occurs when blood flow to the brain is blocked, causing brain cells to die affecting your speech, movement, vision and behavior. On average, someone has a stroke every 40 seconds. It is the fifth-leading cause of death and the No. 1 cause of adult disability in the United States.

Like a heart attack, a brain attack requires emergency response and treatment. Knowing the risk factors and warning signs for stroke can save your life.

A drug called tissue plasminogen activator (tPA) is given to most stroke patients. tPA dissolves clots allowing blood to flow to the brain. Our stroke teams administer tPA to our patients below the national average time – giving our patients the best chance for a full recovery.

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 the Signs

One in three American doesn’t know the signs of a stroke. The ability to recognize stroke symptoms and call 911 immediately could save a life.

Fewer than 10 percent of people suffering a stroke arrive at the hospital quickly enough to receive the best treatment because they were unable to identify their stroke symptoms.

Time is brain with stroke!

Do you know what F.A.S.T. stands for? Click the letter to find out.


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.

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.

  • 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