If you or a loved one experience symptoms of a stroke, immediately call 911 and get to the nearest stroke center.
As the saying goes, time is brain. A stroke occurs when a blood vessel in the brain either is blocked or bursts. As the moments following a stroke tick by, more brain cells die and surrounding tissue is damaged.
The best care for stroke symptoms is the team that provides a quick, effective response to the situation. Every Catholic Health is a New York State designated Stroke Center, committed to providing the highest quality of care to our patients. In addition, Mercy Hospital is the region's only Joint Commission Accredited Comprehensive Stroke Center, certified for their abilities to receive and treat the most complex cases from our stroke care network.
An ischemic stroke occurs when blood flow to the brain is interrupted by a blocked or clogged artery, usually due to a blood clot or cholesterol plaque. When this happens, doctors try to provide treatment that unclogs the blood vessel as fast as possible, to reduce permanent damage. There are two kinds of treatments:
- Medicine – If the drug tissue plasminogen activator (tPA) is administered within a few hours of symptom onset, it can be used to break up blood clots. One of the largest benefits of antithrombotic medication is that it is given through a vein in the arm, meaning surgery can be deemed unnecessary.
- Cardiac catheterization – If tPA is determined unlikely to be effective, or if too much time has passed since symptom onset, surgeons can physically unblock an artery with a non-invasive procedure. A long, flexible tube called a catheter is inserted into the patient's upper thigh and threaded up to the brain. The catheter then carries a small, metal device called a stent retriever to the localized area. The sent is able to surround the blood clot and pull it out of the blocked artery.
The other type of stroke is a hemorrhagic stroke, which means blood is leaking into the brain’s surrounding tissue. This usually results from the rupture of a weakened blood vessel, also called an aneurysm. Hemorrhagic strokes are less likely to occur than ischemic, with almost 90% of all strokes happening because of a blocked artery.
Anti-blood clotting or blood-thinning medicines, like tPA, cannot be used in the case of a hemorrhagic stroke, because it would worsen the bleeding.
Instead, doctors work to repair the broken blood vessels by enforcing regular blood flow pattern with metal coils or flow diverters. This treatment can be administered as a catheter-based technique or through open brain surgery.
Recovering from a Stroke
Creating a comprehensive recovery program after a stroke has occurred is just as important as the acute treatment itself. We encourage our stroke patients to participate in neuro-rehabilitation programs to advance their recovery:
Your doctor will work with you and your caregivers to create a personalized recovery plan for your specific condition.