UF Health physicians and specialists are nationally renowned in the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of stroke. Our team of experts is dedicated to offering the highest level of stroke care available anywhere in the world. Our team includes highly-trained vascular neurologists and endovascular/cerebrovascular neurosurgeons who can care for people with all kinds of strokes from simple to the most complex.
If you or a loved one is having a stroke, you want to be cared for by the experts. During a stroke, time is of the essence, and you don’t want to lose time traveling from one place to another during such a life-threatening emergency. The most optimal treatment for ischemic strokes requires 24/7 availability of vascular neurologists and endovascular/cerebrovascular neurosurgeons. UF Health Shands Hospital is the only hospital in the region to offer this service.
In our area, there are no other facilities with the number of experienced neurologists and neurosurgeons found at UF Health. We have an unmatched level of coordination across several medical specialties and our imaging and diagnostic equipment is second to none.
Types of Stroke
UF vascular neurologists treat all of the following types of strokes:
Transient Ischemic Attack (TIA)
Transient ischemic attacks are caused when blood flow to parts of the brain are restricted for brief periods of time. Because the blood supply is restored quickly, brain tissue does not die as it does in a stroke. These attacks are often early warning signs of a stroke.
Acute Ischemic Stroke
Strokes can be either ischemic or hemorrhagic. In an ischemic stroke, the blood supply to part of the brain is cut off because atherosclerosis or a blood clot has blocked a blood vessel. Blood clots can travel to the brain from another artery (artery-to-artery embolization) or they can come from the heart (cardioemoblic stroke).
Aneurysms and Subarachnoid Hemorrhages
While an ischemic stroke is caused by the blood supply to part of the brain being cut off, a hemorrhagic stroke is caused by bleeding into the brain.
A subarachnoid hemorrhage is sudden bleeding between the brain and the membranes that cover it. Besides killing the brain cells where the bleeding occurs, bleeding inside the skull can quickly raise the pressure on the brain to dangerous levels.
While ischemic strokes happen when the blood flow to a part of the brain is interrupted, a hemorrhagic stroke is caused when there is bleeding into brain tissue that kills blood cells.
A cerebral hemorrhage can take several forms:
- Intracerebral hemorrhages. This is bleeding inside the brain. The symptoms and prognosis of an intracerebral bleed vary depending on the size and location of the bleed.
- Subarachnoid hemorrhages. This is bleeding between the brain and the membranes that cover the brain.
- Subdural hemorrhages. This is bleeding between the layers of the brain’s covering (the meninges).
- Epidural hemorrhages. This is bleeding between the skull and the covering of the brain.
In the Event of a Possible Stroke
Time is vital.
If you are going to receive tPA, a clot-dissolving drug, or other appropriate therapy, you must get to a hospital quickly so a doctor can diagnose your stroke and treat you within three hours after symptoms begin.
In the hospital emergency room, tests will determine if a TIA, stroke or another medical problem caused your symptoms.
To increase your chances of surviving a stroke, follow these four steps in the when you first experience symptoms:
- Know the warning signs and act fast if you experience them. Recognize the warning signs and note the time when they first occur. Call 911 immediately. Tell the operator you or the person you are with is having stroke warning signs.
- Receive early assessments and pre-hospital care by emergency medical services personnel.
- Rapid emergency medical services (EMS) system transport and hospital pre-notification. Get to an appropriate hospital quickly via the EMS. Ambulance personnel will notify the emergency room.
- Rapid diagnosis and treatment at the hospital. Receive prompt evaluation of medical data and treatment to restore blood flow to the brain or other treatments as appropriate by a properly staffed and equipped hospital.
At the UF Health Stroke Program, a neurologist is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week to rapidly evaluate patients who are experiencing warning signs of stroke.
UF Health Shands Hospital has state-of-the-art brain imaging technologies, such as CT and MRI scans, for rapid diagnosis and identification of the location of the stroke.
Medical interventions are available through the stroke program, including tPA, blood pressure management, blood thinners or other medications as needed.
Neurosurgeons and vascular surgeons are on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week. In addition, neuro-interventionalists are on call to treat intracranial blood clots, aneurysms and blocked arteries that cannot be reached by conventional surgery.
Stroke Signs and Symptoms
A stroke can occur suddenly, and it is important to act quickly if you or someone you know has experienced the sudden onset of the following symptoms:
- Weakness or paralysis of an arm, leg, side of the face or any part of the body
- Numbness, tingling or decreased sensation
- Vision changes
- Slurred speech, inability to speak or understand speech, difficulty reading or writing
- Swallowing difficulties or drooling
- Vertigo (spinning sensation)
- Loss of balance or coordination
- Drowsiness, lethargy or loss of consciousness
- Uncontrollable eye movements or eyelid drooping
If you experience these symptoms, or see someone with any of these symptoms, call 911 immediately. If you are in Gainesville, ask the paramedics to take you to Shands.
The symptoms of stroke depend on what part of the brain is damaged. In some cases, a person may not even be aware that he or she has had a stroke.
The American Stroke Association recommends evaluating the five following behaviors to determine if symptoms are a stroke:
- Walk – Is the patient’s balance off?
- Talk – Is the patient’s face droopy or speech slurred?
- Reach – Is one side weak or numb?
- See – Is the patient’s vision all or partially lost?
- Feel – Is the patient’s headache severe?