Understanding Stroke: What to Know and What to Do

Doctors in the UW Health Comprehensive Stroke ProgramMadison, Wisconsin - May is National Stroke Awareness month and UW Health is dedicated to communicating critical information so that lives are saved.


"Informing the public about stroke symptoms and how to respond is the basis for all of our community outreach programs, " said Chris Whelley, UW Health's Stroke Program Coordinator.


Recognizing symptoms and calling 911 is important for the best patient outcome.


A stroke occurs when an artery (a tube that carries blood from the heart to the body) is either blocked with a blood clot or leaks blood, interrupting blood flow to an area of the brain.


When either of these things happens, brain cells begin to die and brain damage occurs. When brain cells die during a stroke, abilities controlled by that area of the brain are damaged or lost. These abilities may include speech, movement and memory. How a person is affected depends on where the stroke occurs in the brain and how much of the brain is affected.

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As one of the top 100 stroke hospitals in America, UW Hospital and Clinics covers all aspects of stroke care from prevention and risk assessment to medical management, surgery, and rehabilitation. Our stroke program observes stroke month each May to bring a special focus to recognizing symptoms and reminding people immediately to call 911 upon experiencing or witnessing symptoms of stroke:

  • Sudden weakness or numbness of the face arm or leg, especially on one side
  • 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 and unusual headache with no known cause

One way for rural hospitals to make use of the expertise of UW Health Stroke Neurologists is through a system called Telestroke. This technology allows regional hospital’s emergency departments to access UW experts in diagnosis and treatment of acute stroke patients. With the aid of a video system and microphone, the UW stroke neurologist can see and hear the patient while interacting with the physician onsite.


Because acting quickly is critical in treating stroke patients, this extra level of stroke-specific knowledge can make a real difference. With three systems already operational and another scheduled to launch this summer, the UW Health Comprehensive Stroke Program is providing important emergency service to regional communities.


Other May activities include Understanding Stroke presentations at local senior centers, distribution of materials that highlight symptom recognition and stroke prevention, and other communications to increase awareness. It is easy to be prepared so take a few minutes and get stroke smart.



Date Published: 04/28/2011

News tag(s):  stroke

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