Advocate Christ Medical Center
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Stroke is the third leading cause of death in America behind cancer and heart disease. It is like a heart attack of the brain and shares many of the same risk factors, including high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity and smoking.

Strokes are typically separated into two categories: ischemic and hemorrhagic, along with a pre-stroke event, called a transient ischemic attack.

Ischemic Strokes are the most common type of stroke and account for approximately 83 percent of all strokes. It occurs when a blood vessel supplying blood to the brain is obstructed, cutting off oxygen and blood to a portion of the brain. A patient's chances for recovery usually depend upon how long and how much of the brain is denied oxygen. Doctors refer to a three-hour window from the onset of symptoms in which they can treat the clot to promote the best outcome.

Hemorrhagic Strokes are not as common, but much more dangerous. They account for only 17 percent of cases and 50 percent of deaths. It is the result of a ruptured blood vessel in the brain. Because the brain has first priority when it comes to blood supply, the heart will continue to pump blood into the brain, with no warning that the blood is filling the cranial cavity and compressing brain tissue.

An aneurysm is a ballooned section of a blood vessel that can lead to a hemorrhagic stroke, if not treated. Another precursor to a hemorrhagic stroke is an Arteriovenous Malformation (AVM). AVMs involve abnormal clusters of blood vessels that short circuit the flow of nutrients in the blood to the brain.

Transient Ischemic Attacks (TIAs) are considered minor or warning strokes. Much like an ischemic stroke, a TIA involves an obstructed blood vessel, but the clot typically resolves itself. TIAs should not be ignored, however, as they are potential indicators of a major stroke.

How is it diagnosed?
How is it treated?
How does Advocate Christ Medical Center make a difference?
Frequently Asked Questions

How is it diagnosed?

Advocate Christ Medical Center features more than twenty-five board-certified radiologists and provides sophisticated imaging technologies to help diagnose any variety of neurological conditions.

  • Computed tomography (CT) - a non-invasive test that uses special X-ray equipment that captures many cross-sectional views ("slices") of an organ or area being examined. A computer then combines the many slices to create a two-dimensional view of the organ, tissue or blood vessel being examined. CT scans offer much more detail than traditional X-ray. At Christ Medical Center, patients benefit from state-of-the-art 64-slice CT scanning.

  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) - combines a powerful magnetic field, radio waves and a computer to create very detailed images of the brain and other organs or body structures. MRI is the most sensitive imaging technology for the brain.

  • Electrocardiogram (EKG) - a test that records the electrical activity of the heart and detects irregularities in heart rhythm that can lead to blood clots.

  • Echocardiography - creates a two-dimensional picture of the cardiovascular system and can also produce accurate assessment of the velocity of blood and cardiac tissue at any arbitrary point using pulsed or continuous wave Doppler ultrasound. Using echocardiography, doctors can detect an abnormality that could lead to stroke.

  • Angiography - takes images of the blood vessels in the brain to detect abnormalities in the brain's blood vessels, such as narrowing or blockage.

How is it treated?

Advocate Christ Medical Center offers a full compliment of stroke treatments, from surgical removal of blood clots and AVMs to the very latest in minimally invasive interventional procedures. Treatments include:

  • Carotid endarterectomy - is a surgical procedure where doctors remove fatty deposits from one of the carotid arteries to prevent a stroke.

  • Tissue plasminogen activator - is injected into the bloodstream to break up the clot until blood can flow past it. This treatment is used only for ischemic strokes.

  • Aneurysm Coiling - involves a catheter that is thread into a small incision in the groin and through the femoral artery to the blockage. A flexible mesh tube, or stent, is placed at the base of the aneurysm and then expanded to conform to the arterial wall. Small metal coils are slid through the stent and into the aneurysm, blocking blood from entering the aneurysm and preventing a rupture. The stent prevents the coils from falling out of the aneurysm sac.

  • Thrombolysis - involves threading a catheter through the femoral artery and up to the site of a blood clot. A clot-busting drug can be administered directly to the clot, which reduces side effects and increases the effectiveness of the treatment.

  • Embolectomy - involves threading a catheter the groin and to the site of the clot. Wire coils are sent through the catheter and into a blood clot, grabbing it so it can be pulled out.

  • AVM Embolization - A catheter is thread directly to the AVM through which a drug is injected to close the AVM vessels. This wil reduce the size of the AVM in preparation for surgical removal or completely block blood flow to the AVM vessels.

How does Advocate Christ Medical Center make a difference?

Advocate Christ Medical Center is a primary stroke center certified by the Joint Commission. We treat more than 900 new stroke patients per year, making Christ Medical Center one of the busiest stroke centers in the Chicagoland area. This experience makes Christ Medical Center one of the best centers to treat more difficult stroke patients, especially in managing post stroke recovery and rehabilitation.

Under the direction of renowned neurologist, Dr. Franco Campanella, we have streamlined the entire stroke and post-stroke care continuum at Christ Medical Center to ensure the very best patient outcomes. We are beating the clock for stroke protocols with an average of 23 minutes for door to evaluation plus a second opinion, about 50 percent faster than the Joint Commission (JCAHO) standard of 45 minutes. For patients, this time savings can significantly impact their recovery and the depth of their deficits.

Advance practice nurses and stroke coordinators use evidence-based protocols following American Heart Association and American Stroke Association guidelines to treat each patient. From a seamless and urgent multi-modality approach to getting patients from the door to diagnosis, to providing a number of innovative surgical and minimally invasive treatment approaches, the committed stroke team at Advocate Christ Medical Center can minimize the impact of a stroke, giving patients a fighting chance for recovery.

Just as important as exceptional treatment options is a high level of commitment to prevention. At Advocate Christ Medical Center, we support the F.A.S.T. program, a public education campaign designed to raise awareness of the signs and symptoms of stroke. Our nurses are actively involved in the stroke awareness program for the state of Illinois, participating in conferences, community events and in-house programming.

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