Brain and Spine Conditions - Neurology

Leaders in stroke care and prevention

In Northeastern Oklahoma, Ascension St. John’s neurology care team leads our regional stroke care center and provides life-saving interventions.

Stroke care and prevention

Review the signs of symptoms of stroke and BE FAST. Call 911 at the very first sign.

At Ascension St. John Medical Center in Tulsa, Oklahoma, the stroke care team is led by experienced, fellowship-trained, board-certified vascular neurologists, neurosurgeons and interventional radiologists that specialize in stroke care and prevention. Our 24-7 emergency stroke care center has the technology and experience when tPA and other therapies are needed to help prevent serious brain damage.

Our doctors and care team take the time to listen to understand your symptoms. Our team approach helps you get the care that is right for you. We provide a wide range of care for all types of stroke from drug treatment to mechanical devices and minimally invasive surgical procedures, including neuro-rehabilitation for stroke recovery.

What is a stroke?

A stroke, or brain attack, happens when blood flow to your brain is stopped. It is an emergency. Call 911 if you think you might be having a stroke or stroke symptoms.

The brain needs a constant supply of oxygen and nutrients to work well. If blood supply is stopped even for a short time, this can cause problems. Brain cells begin to die after just a few minutes without blood or oxygen.

When brain cells die, brain function is lost. You may not be able to do things that are controlled by that part of the brain. For example, a stroke may affect your ability to:

  • Move
  • Speak
  • Eat, drink, and swallow
  • See clearly
  • Think and remember
  • Control your bowel and bladder
  • Control your emotions
  • Control other vital body functions

A stroke can happen to anyone at any time.

Early stroke interventions lead to early improvement

When it comes to stroke every second counts – BE FAST to save as much of the brain as possible.

Look for these common signs:

BE FAST when you see these signs of a stroke.

  • Balance – Watch for sudden problems with balance, walking or dizziness
  • Eyes – Check for visual loss; sudden double or blurry vision
  • Face – Ask them to smile. Does one side of the face droop?
  • Arm – Ask them to raise both arms. Does one arm drift down?
  • Speech – Ask them to repeat a phrase. Are the words slurred? Can he/she repeat the sentence correctly?
  • Time – Every second, brain cells die.

Call 911 at the first sign of stroke.

Sometimes symptoms can go away only to return later, and often there is no pain associated with stroke symptoms.

While many of these symptoms can occur for other reasons, stroke is characterized by the suddenness of their appearance. Other stroke symptoms include: loss of balance/coordination, vision problems in one or both eyes, acute headache without a known cause, fever, vomiting or nausea, brief fainting spells or loss of consciousness. Not all these signs occur in every stroke.

Don’t ignore stroke symptoms or wait for them to subside because minutes can be the difference between full recovery and permanent disability. In an emergency, when time can be the difference between life and death, St. John Heyman Stroke Center stands ready to serve.

What causes a stroke?

A stroke is caused when blood flow to your brain is stopped or disrupted.

There are 2 kinds of stroke: ischemic and hemorrhagic.

  • Ischemic stroke. This is the most common type of stroke. It happens when a major blood vessel in the brain is blocked. It may be blocked by a blood clot. Or it may be blocked by a buildup of fatty deposit and cholesterol. This buildup is called plaque.
  • Hemorrhagic stroke. This occurs when a blood vessel in your brain bursts, spilling blood into nearby tissues. With a hemorrhagic stroke, pressure builds up in the nearby brain tissue. This causes even more damage and irritation.

Our treatment philosophy

In the event of a stroke, time saved is brain saved. That’s why at the St. John Heyman Stroke Center we work to:

  • Reduce time delays for medical care in the emergency department by treating potential stroke patients as critical. That means no sitting in the waiting room while precious seconds tick by and permanent, long-term damage occurs.
  • Reduce medical complications
  • Reduce time in the hospital

Upon arrival with stroke symptoms, will take a complete health history and do a physical exam. We will perform tests for stroke, such as brain imaging and measuring the blood flow in the brain. Tests may include:

  • CT (computed tomography) scan of the brain. An imaging test that uses X-rays to take clear, detailed images of the brain. A brain CT scan can show bleeding in the brain or damage to brain cells caused by a stroke. It is used to find abnormalities and help find the location or type of stroke.
  • MRI (magnetic resonance imaging). This test uses a combination of large magnets, radiofrequencies, and a computer to make detailed images of organs and structures in the body. An MRI uses magnetic fields to find small changes in brain tissue that help to find and diagnose stroke.
  • CTA (computed tomographic angiography). An X-ray image of the blood vessels. A CT angiogram uses CT technology to get images of blood vessels.
  • MRA (magnetic resonance angiography). This test uses MRI technology to check blood flow through the arteries.
  • Doppler sonography (carotid ultrasound). A test that uses sound waves to create pictures of the inside of your carotid arteries. This test can show if plaque has narrowed or blocked your carotid arteries.
  • Cerebral arteriogram. An X-ray image that can help your doctor find blockages or other abnormalities in the blood vessels of your head and neck.

The following heart tests may also be used to help diagnose heart problems that may have led to a stroke:

  • Electrocardiogram (ECG). This test records your heart’s electrical activity. It shows any irregular heart rhythms that may have caused a stroke.
  • Echocardiography. This test uses sound waves to create a picture of your heart. This test shows the size and shape of your heart. It can check if the heart valves are working properly. It can also see if there are blood clots inside your heart.

Our goals of inpatient admission for the stroke patient are:

  • To treat the acute stroke patient, including those eligible for IV thrombolytic and/or endovascular intervention
  • To medically stabilize the patient
  • To provide an in-depth work-up to identify the cause of the stroke for secondary prevention
  • To evaluate the patient with multidisciplinary rehabilitation services to help determine a disposition plan that will give optimal outcomes

Continuing high-quality stroke care through admission

Our stroke care unit includes a 22 bed-neurotrauma surgical ICU and a 28-bed stroke telemetry unit. The award-winning stroke care units are Medicare and Medicaid designated comprehensive stroke centers with nurses who have additional National Institute of Health Stroke Scale (NIHSS) certification. This type of training improves the delivery of bedside evaluations of stroke patients.

Our Neurocritical Care team, led by a fellowship trained neurointensivist physician, provide specialized care to our patients in the neurotrauma surgical ICU.

Our stroke telemetry unit is a dedicated unit to serving our patients that have been diagnosed with a stroke or need further evaluation for stroke-like symptoms. The physicians, nurse practitioners, physician assistants and nurses who care for our patients have specialized training to focus on the care and education of the stroke patient.

Outpatient stroke clinic

Following discharge, we provide follow-up care for stroke patients through our Outpatient Stroke Clinic. The clinic accepts patients who have experienced:

  • Transient ischemic attack
  • Ischemic stroke
  • Hemorrhagic stroke
  • Post-stroke complications

We also treat patients with significant cerebral vascular disease, such as:

  • Carotid artery disease
  • Vertebral–basilar artery disease
  • Intracranial aneurysms
  • Arteriovenous malformations
  • Cerebral artery dissections

Treatment plans are tailored for stroke risk reduction via medication management or surgical intervention, with an emphasis on healthy lifestyle behaviors. The stroke clinic team will work with your primary care physician to manage a care plan.

Specializing in stroke rehabilitation

If you do experience a stroke, our stroke rehabilitation therapists customize your therapy for your needs. Our stroke center provides a network of physical therapy locations and many of our therapists specialize in neuro rehabilitation for stroke, spinal cord and brain injuries. Our team approach is a combination of education, therapy, nutritional counseling and behavioral health support. We include your family to help speed up your recovery. By focusing on your quality of life goals, we can help you resume the activities that you love to do.

At Ascension St. John we provide a wide range of therapies including aquatic therapy and the transition to wellness and fitness programs. Our stroke support group meets monthly. For information about stroke rehabilitation, call 918-744-3635.

Review the signs of symptoms of stroke and BE FAST. Call 911 at the very first sign.

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