According to the American Stroke Association, 2 million brains cells are permanently lost per minute during a stroke. For every hour, 3.6 years of life are lost. When experiencing stroke symptoms, it is critical to call 911 and get to your closest Emergency Room right away. Every second counts to have the best outcome.

What is a stroke?

A stroke, also known as a cerebrovascular accident, occurs when the arteries in the brain are blocked or rupture, keeping the brain from getting the oxygen-rich blood it needs. Without oxygen, nerve cells begin to die. These nerve cells can affect many parts of the body, including speech and movement. The longer the nerves are without blood, the greater the risk of long-term damage.

Before experiencing a stroke, an individual may experience a transient ischemic attack (TIA), or mini stroke. TIAs often pass quickly and do not do damage. However, up to 20% of people will experience a stroke within two years of having a TIA.

Immediate treatment is critical for the best possible outcome. East Florida Division has an expansive care network, which includes five Agency for Health Care Administration (AHCA) comprehensive stroke centers:

  • Aventura Hospital and Medical Center
  • JFK Medical Center
  • Kendall Regional Medical Center
  • Lawnwood Medical Center
  • Westside Medical Center

And seven Joint Commission accredited primary stroke centers:

  • Mercy Hospital
  • Plantation General Hospital
  • University Hospital
    and Medical Center
  • Northwest
  • JFK North
  • Palms West Hospital
  • Lucie Medical Center

While all of our Emergency Rooms are capable of caring for a stroke, comprehensive stroke centers are equipped with the specialists and equipment required to provide advanced neurosurgical care. A comprehensive stroke center is accessible to patients across South Florida.

Signs of a stroke:

Signs and symptoms of stroke include the sudden appearance of:

  • Numbness, weakness, tingling or loss of feeling on the face, arm and leg, especially on one side of the body
  • Trouble swallowing
  • Confusion and trouble speaking or understanding
  • Trouble seeing in one or both eyes, or double vision
  • Trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination
  • Severe headache with no known cause

Upon noticing any of these symptoms, note the time and call 911! An easy way to remember stroke symptoms is BE FAST.

When Stroke Strikes, Seconds Count. BE FAST.
Recognize Stroke Symptoms.

BE FAST. Recognize Stroke Symptoms.

  • Balance Lost
  • Eyes - Blurred Vision
  • Facial Drooping
  • Arm Weakness
  • Speech Difficulty
  • Time to Call 9-1-1

Types of stroke

An individual may experience an ischemic or hemorrhagic stroke. These are the differences:

Ischemic Stroke:

  • Approximately 80% of strokes are ischemic strokes
  • Caused by lack of blood flow to the brain due to clots or low blood flow
  • High blood pressure is the most important risk factor
  • TIA may be a warning sign
  • Often proceeded by symptoms or warning signs, listed above
  • Can happen at any time

Hemorrhagic Stroke:

  • Approximate 20% of strokes are hemorrhagic strokes
  • Caused when a blood vessel ruptures in or near the brain, stopping oxygen flow
  • Symptoms appear suddenly
  • TIA or other common stroke signs and symptoms may not occur
  • May be accompanied by severe headache, nausea and vomiting
  • Typically occurs in younger individuals
  • Often more fatal than ischemic strokes

Risk Factors for Stroke

Some risk factors are uncontrollable, like age and genetics. However, others can be managed with a healthy lifestyle.

Controllable Risk Factors:

  • Tobacco use
  • Physical inactivity
  • Obesity
  • Alcohol intake beyond one drink per day for women and two drinks per day for men
  • Illegal drug use
  • Chronic disease management. Work with your physician to control conditions such as:
    • High blood pressure
    • High blood sugar
    • Heart disease
    • Carotid artery disease

Uncontrollable Risk Factors:

  • Age
  • Gender
  • Race
  • Prior stroke or TIA

Click on a location to learn more about the stroke program closest to you.