Stroke and vascular

“Time is brain.” That’s what doctors say when it comes to treating a patient who’s having a stroke. Every second can mean the difference between life and death, total independence or long-term disability.

At Edward-Elmhurst Health, we strive to provide the fastest, most efficient and effective stroke care possible. Our “stroke teams” are specially trained to treat stroke patients. Edward Hospital is certified as a Comprehensive Stroke Center by DNV GL Healthcare, reflecting the highest level of competence when it comes to treatment of serious stroke events.  And, the Joint Commission has recognized Elmhurst Hospital as an Advanced Primary Stroke Center, for treating stroke cases.

What is a stroke?

A stroke is an interruption of the blood supply to the brain and is sometimes called a "brain attack."

Acute ischemic stroke occurs when a blood vessel that supplies blood to the brain is blocked by a blood clot. Acute ischemic stroke can happen in two ways:

  • A clot may form in an artery that is already very narrow. This is called a thrombotic stroke.
  • A clot may break off from another place in the blood vessels of the brain or from some other part of the body and travel up to the brain. This is called an embolic stroke.

A hemorrhagic stroke results when a blood vessel in the brain becomes weak and bursts open, causing blood to leak into the brain.

Symptoms of a stroke

The American Stroke Association provides the following warning signs of stroke:

  • Sudden numbness or weakness of the face, arm or leg, especially on one side of the body
  • Sudden confusion, trouble speaking or understanding
  • Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes
  • Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination
  • Sudden, severe headache with no known cause

To help identify the signs of stroke, remember BE FAST:

  • B – Balance. Is there a sudden loss of balance?
  • E – Eyes. Is it difficult to see out of one or both eyes?
  • F – Face. Is there sudden weakness on one side of the face? Is one side of the face droopy?
  • A – Arm. Is there weakness in one arm or leg?
  • S – Speech. Is there a loss of speech or is speech slurred?
  • T – Time to act. Call 911 if even one of these problems is new.

If an individual develops signs and symptoms of stroke, call 911 so he/she can be immediately transported to an Edward-Elmhurst Emergency Department.

Stroke team

Patients suspected of having a stroke are immediately evaluated and treated by the stroke teams in the Edward and Elmhurst Emergency Departments, and by our neuroscience experts.

Our stroke teams are comprised of individuals specially trained in stroke care, including: Emergency Department (ED) physicians, ED registered nurses, neurologists, neurointerventionalists, neurosurgeons, radiologists, CT scan technicians, skilled critical care nurses, neuro advanced practice nurses, rehabilitation therapists and a stroke coordinator.

Stroke treatment

Our stroke team will determine if you are a candidate for tissue plasminogen activator (tPA), medication that breaks up blood clots and helps bring back blood flow to the damaged area. If given within three hours of the start of symptoms, tPA can reduce long-term disability for the most common type of stroke.

In November 2021, our stroke team began using tenecteplase, a type of tPA, as the thrombolytic drug of choice for patients experiencing ischemic stroke who meet certain inclusion criteria. Tenecteplase can be administered in a single IV dose, over about 5 to 10 seconds, drastically decreasing the time it takes to administer the initial dose for stroke patients. Learn more.

If you are not a candidate for tPA, we will evaluate you for possible mechanical clot retrieval, which is done in our neurointerventional lab located at Edward Hospital in Naperville. Using minimally invasive technology, our neurointerventionalist maneuvers a tiny, thin Penumbra, Solitaire or Trevo clot retrieval catheter through an artery in the leg, past the heart and into the blood vessels of the brain. Clear 3D, digital images guide the neurointerventionalist to the clot where it's grabbed and removed—stopping or even reversing the effects of the stroke.

Recovery from a stroke 

The stroke care team at Edward-Elmhurst Health provides expert, fully integrated neurologic care to maximize functional recovery and prevent future strokes.

Following your initial treatment, you’ll receive care in a Neuro Intensive Care Unit with specialty trained critical care nurses. Physical, occupational, speech (swallowing therapy) also begin in the hospital to help you rebuild strength and functional capabilities. These therapists will work with you and your medical team to create a discharge plan that is best for you.

Once home, acute stroke survivors can take part in an innovative new stroke recovery program called SCREEN, developed through a collaboration between NorthShore – Edward-Elmhurst Health and Residential Home Health.

If the SCREEN program is part of your individualized discharge plan, a transitional nurse liaison from Residential will speak with you before discharge from the hospital to coordinate your home care. Learn more about Residential.

SCREEN offers a customized home health plan that addresses a stroke survivor’s personal challenges and helps them set and achieve goals for greater health, quality of life and independence, and reduce the likelihood of rehospitalization. The plan may include:

  • Rehabilitation services (physical, occupational and speech/swallowing therapy)
  • Comprehensive neurology assessments
  • Depression and nutrition screenings
  • Disease-specific education and medication safety
  • Resources to aid in recovery (e.g., stroke support group)

Who’s at risk for a stroke?

Men age 45 or older and women age 55 or older, and those who have one or more of the following are at increased risk for stroke:

  • Family history of heart disease
  • Relative who had a stroke
  • High blood pressure
  • Smoking
  • High cholesterol
  • Diabetes or fasting blood sugar greater than 100
  • Circulatory problems
  • Obesity
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Leg pain

Find out if you’re at risk with our online StrokeAware test or call 630-527-2800 to schedule a stroke and vascular screening.

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