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Stroke Awareness

At VCU Health Community Memorial Hospital, we are committed to the highest quality of compassionate patient care.  We provide evidence-based care, utilizing a range of performance measures in the clinical setting to evaluate the care of our stroke patients.

What is a stroke?

A stroke occurs when a blood vessel carrying oxygen and nutrients to the brain gets blocked or ruptures. Deprived of blood, nerve cells die within minutes. And when nerve cells don’t function, the part of the body they control can’t function either.

The devastating effects of stroke are often permanent because dead brain cells can’t be replaced. In fact, stroke is the third leading cause of death (after heart disease and cancer) and a leading cause of serious, long-term disability in America.

For this reason, it is critical to seek immediate medical help by calling 911 for an ambulance and going to the nearest Emergency Department for these sudden symptoms:

  • Numbness or weakness in the face, arm or leg, especially on one side of the body

  • Confusion or trouble speaking or understanding

  • Trouble seeing out of one or both eyes

  • Trouble walking, dizziness or loss of balance or coordination

  • Severe headache with no known cause

At VCU Health Community Memorial Hospital, our Emergency Department staff is trained to recognize signs of stroke and acts quickly when someone with symptoms of a stroke comes through our doors.  When it comes to stroke, time is brain. Getting help quickly is essential. But knowing where to turn for treatment is also a critical decision. At VCU Health Community Memorial Hospital, stroke patients have the best chance for the best outcome.

Know the risk factors for stroke

  • High blood pressure. High blood pressure is the main risk factor for stroke. Blood pressure is considered high if it stays at or above 140/90 mmHg over time.

  • Smoking. Smoking can damage blood vessels and raise blood pressure. Smoking also may reduce the amount of oxygen that reaches your body's tissues. Exposure to secondhand smoke also can damage the blood vessels.

  • Diabetes. Diabetes is a disease in which the blood sugar level is high because the body doesn't make enough insulin or doesn't use its insulin properly. Insulin is a hormone that helps move blood sugar into cells where it's used for energy.

  • Heart diseases. Coronary heart disease (also called coronary artery disease), heart failure and atrial fibrillation can cause blood clots that can lead to a stroke.

  • Brain aneurysms or arteriovenous malformations (AVMs). Aneurysms are balloon-like bulges in an artery that can stretch and burst. AVMs are tangles of faulty arteries and veins that can rupture (break open) within the brain. AVMs may be present at birth, but often aren't diagnosed until they rupture.

  • Age/gender. Your risk of stroke increases as you get older. At younger ages, men are more likely than women to have strokes. However, women are more likely to die from strokes. Women who take birth control pills also are at slightly higher risk of stroke.

  • Race/ethnicity. Strokes occur more often in African American, Alaska Native, and American Indian adults than in Caucasian, Hispanic, or Asian American adults.

  • Personal/family history of stroke or transient ischemic attack (TIA). If you've had a stroke, you're at higher risk for another one. Your risk of having a repeat stroke is the highest right after a stroke. A TIA – also called a "mini-stroke" – increases your risk of having a stroke, as does having a family history of stroke.

Other risk factors for stroke, many of which of you can control, include:

  • Alcohol and illegal drug use, including cocaine, amphetamines, and other drugs

  • Unhealthy cholesterol levels

  • Lack of physical activity

  • Unhealthy diet

  • Obesity

  • Stress and depression

  • Certain medical conditions, such as sickle cell anemia, inflammation of the blood vessels and bleeding disorders

Following a healthy lifestyle can lower the risk of stroke.   Some people also may need to take medicines to lower their risk.

Sometimes strokes can occur in people who don't have any known risk  factors so it is important to know the signs of a stroke.

When it comes to stroke, time is brain.

Getting help quickly is essential. But knowing where to turn for treatment is also a critical decision. At VCU Health Community Memorial Hospital, stroke patients have the best chance for the best outcome.

Here's why, VCU Health CMH:

  • provides complete, multidisciplinary care.  Patient care is coordinated from the time of arriving in the Emergency Department to the completion of rehabilitation.

  • When a patient arrives in the emergency department a ‘Code Neuro’ is called. The ED and CT/Radiology care teams go into action to ensure the fastest diagnosis and initiation of treatment.

  • is 100% compliant in providing early antithrombotic therapy to stroke patients.

  • is 100% compliant in providing VTE prophylaxis.

  • is 100% compliant in discharging patients with antithrombotic medication(s) to prevent a recurrence of a blood clot.

  • is 100% compliant is assessing patients for rehabilitation following strokes.

  • is 100% Stroke Award Qualified; i.e. Get With The Guidelines (Stroke Care) criteria are met.                                                          

  • CICU received the Beacon Award for Excellence.

  • Joint Commission Accreditation, February 2018

  • Anthem Quality In-Sight® Hospital Incentive Program (Q-HIP) Award 


CMH Joint Commission AHA Stroke LogoGold, grey and red icon for 2023 Get with the Guidelines Gold Plus with the American Heart Association logo

Contacts and Resources

If you believe someone is having a stroke – if he or she suddenly loses the ability to speak, or move an arm or leg on one side, or experiences facial paralysis on one side – call 911 immediately.

Links to Other Information About Stroke

Dial the Stroke helpline at 1-800-STROKES (787-6537).

For more information about Stroke Services at VCU Health Community Memorial Hospital, call (434) 584-6023.