Stroke is the Nation's Third Leading Cause of Death

Armen Hareyan's picture

According to the American Stroke Association, each year nearly 700,000 people experience a new or recurrent stroke, which is the nation's third leading cause of death. On average, someone suffers a stroke every 45 seconds and someone dies of a stroke every three minutes. Strokes occur when a blood clot or burst artery interrupts blood flow to an area of the brain. When cells are deprived of blood, oxygen or nutrients, they die. Strokes often result in irreversible damage such as paralysis and loss of speech.

The May 9, 2005 issue of The Wall Street Journal, reported that many patients are not receiving the proper care needed for the treatment of strokes due to of the lack of specialized centers with knowledgeable staff and outdated ambulance protocol, requiring them to take the patient to the nearest facility, instead of an accredited stroke center. "Stroke victims are generally taken to the closest hospital rather than the one with the ability to treat strokes effectively, increasing chances of death, brain damage or paralysis."

But regionally, Jewish Hospital is leading the way in providing a comprehensive approach to stroke treatment with the Emergency Stroke Center, which recently received certification by the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations. Jewish Hospital's Emergency Stroke Center is the region's first center dedicated to treating strokes. Along with increasing awareness about the warning signs of stroke and the need for immediate medical attention, the Emergency Stroke Center provides a dedicated unit to treat strokes immediately and help limit the devastating effects.

"A stroke can be a treatable disease if taken to a facility with specialty trained staff, such as Jewish Hospital," said Dr. James M. Gebel, Jr., M.D., medical director for the Emergency Stroke Center. Dr. Gebel is fellowship trained, which means his specialty is in stroke treatment. It is supplemental training he received during his neurology training. Neurologists, neurosurgeons and neuroradiologists are on-call 24-hours-a-day, along with specially trained nurses certified in stroke assessment. "The outcome for stroke patients can be much more positive if expert medical care is given in a timely manner," said Dr. Gebel.

Jewish Hospital is able to provide a full-continuum of care beginning with immediate emergency room access, rapid evaluation, with state-of-the-are equipment and the use of tPA, a clot-busting drug that can lessen the severity of the stroke outcome. Patients must receive tPA within three hours of the stroke occurring. In fact, Jewish Hospital is participating in a clinical trial to determine if this three-hour window can be expanded when administering tPA.

The MERCI retriever is another device used by physicians at Jewish Hospital to eliminate blood clots, which cause strokes. The MERCI acts as a corkscrew, which goes into the clot, and then is pulled out of the blood vessel. Both procedures restore blood flow to the patient, which can better the outcome.


Jewish Hospital's Emergency Stroke Center also features inpatient units specially geared towards stroke patients and "Day One" rehab care through Frazier Rehab Institute. "We offer a full-continuum of care, beginning with your stay in Jewish Hospital and continuing to Frazier Rehab Institute and ending with home care services through VNA," said Joanne Berryman, senior vice president. "You can receive world-class stroke rehabilitation without ever leaving our medical campus."

Knowing the Warning Signs and Risk Factors for Stroke

Signs people should watch for include:
Numbness or weakness
Paralysis of the face, arm or leg " especially on one side of the body
Slurred speech
Difficulty speaking
Sudden blurred or decreased vision

Uncontrollable risk factors of stroke:
Race (African-Americans are at higher risk),
Age 55 or over
Gender (more common in men)

Controllable risk factors of stroke:
Managing high blood pressure
Pulse Rate
High cholesterol
Lifestyle choices in regards to fitness and nutrition
Tobacco Use


Jewish Hospital is an internationally renowned high-tech tertiary referral center, developing leading-edge advancements in hand and microsurgery, heart and lung care, home care, rehab medicine (including sports medicine), orthopaedics, neuroscience, occupational health, organ transplantation, outpatient care and primary care. Site of the world's first and the nation's second successful hand transplants, and the world's first and second successful AbioCor Implantable Replacement Hearts, the hospital has also achieved Magnet nursing designation and is federally designated to perform all five solid organ transplants: heart, lung, liver, kidney and pancreas. In 2004, Jewish Hospital received the Consumer Choice Award as the most preferred hospital in Louisville for the sixth consecutive year. - Louisville, KY



Cool Good to see new advances in stroke research and treatment. Millions will benefit from it.