Catholic Health Stroke Care Network

Catholic Health's Stroke Care Network is close by - circling the region - from Lewiston to South Buffalo, including the region's only Advanced Comprehensive Stroke Center at Mercy Hospital

What is a Stroke?

A stroke occurs when a blood vessel that carries oxygen and nutrients to the brain is either blocked by a clot (ischemic stroke) or bursts (hemorrhagic stroke).

Prior to a major stroke, people sometime experience a transient ischemic attack (TIA) in which a clot obstructs an artery for a short time and creates stroke-like symptoms. Since these "temporary" or "mini-strokes" last only minutes or hours, people often ignore them.

Go to the emergency room for any of these symptoms, even if they resolve. Follow up with your doctor to help prevent a debilitating stroke. 

Stroke Signs and Symptoms

Two million brain cells die every minute during a stroke. Therefore, every second counts. If a stroke is not treated immediately, the death of brain cells will lead directly to loss of function—paralysis, loss of speech, loss of vision and even death. Our five Stroke Centers are located throughout Western New York to get you the level of care you need as quickly as possible.

If you think you are experiencing stroke symptoms should call 911 immediately. Symptoms include:

  • Weakness, numbness, or paralysis of the arms or legs, especially on one side of the body
  • Inability to hold arm upward
  • Facial droop, inability to smile
  • Un-explainable worst headache of life, light is bothersome, neck stiffness
  • Severe dizziness, loss of balance
  • Loss of normal vision
  • Confusion and problems with speech – can’t think of a word, can’t say a word

Risk Factors of Stroke

Variable Factors Fixed Factors
  • High blood pressure (hypertension)
  • High cholesterol (hypercholesterolemia)
  • Peripheral vascular disease
  • Heart disease, especially atrial fibrillation (irregular heart beat)
  • Smoking
  • Diabetes mellitus
  • Poor diet: high fat, high cholesterol, high salt
  • Lack of exercise
  • Obesity
  • Alcohol abuse
  • Drug abuse
  • Prior stroke or TIA
  • Age - your chance of stroke doubles every 10 years after the age of 55 for both men and women
  • Family History - because some strokes may be caused by genetic disorders
  • Gender - women who smoke and use birth control pills have increased risk of stroke, especially after age 35
  • Race - certain races have a higher likelihood of developing certain blood and vascular conditions which may lead to stroke. For example, high blood pressure and sickle cell anemia are more prevalent among African Americans. Hispanics also posses a higher risk of stroke.

What Can You Do to Prevent a Stroke?

  • Keep your blood pressure low. 
  • Limit alcohol use.
  • Get regular exercise.
  • Eat healthy.
  • Don't smoke.
  • Visit your doctor for an Atrial Fibrillation check-up.
  • Take medication as prescribed by a physician.

The Science of Stroke

Click here to read about the different types of stroke, different treatments offered at Catholic Health's stroke centers, and much more.