Stroke Center – Overview
What is a stroke?
Stroke is the fifth leading cause of death and disability in the United States after heart disease, cancer, lung disease and accidental injury. A stroke or cerebrovascular accident (CVA) occurs when a blood vessel in or around your brain either becomes blocked or bursts.
There are two types of strokes: ischemic (blood vessel blockage) stroke and hemorrhagic (bleeding) stroke.
Ischemic stroke usually results from either a blood clot (called a thrombus) or a small piece of blood clot that breaks off (called an embolus).
A thrombotic stroke, or cerebral thrombosis, occurs when a blood clot forms in your brain and blocks the flow of blood through the blood vessel. These clots usually develop at sites of arteriosclerosis (hardening of the arteries).
An embolic stroke, or cerebral embolism, occurs when a blood clot develops in another part of your body and travels to the brain. It becomes lodged in a brain blood vessel and prevents blood flow.
In both cases, oxygen-rich blood can’t reach areas of the brain beyond the blockage. Without enough oxygen, brain tissue quickly begins to die. This results in an ischemic stroke, or cerebral infarction.
A hemorrhagic stroke results when a blood vessel in your brain bursts. Two types of hemorrhagic stroke are subarachnoid hemorrhage and intracerebral hemorrhage.
A subarachnoid hemorrhage may be caused by the rupture of a brain aneurysm or an arteriovenous malformation (AVM).
Intracerebral hemorrhage can also be caused by aneurysms and AVMs, as well as high blood pressure and other blood vessel abnormalities.
Transient ischemic attack (TIA)
A transient ischemic attack (TIA), often called a “mini-stroke", is more accurately characterized as a “warning stroke” — a warning you should take very seriously.
A TIA occurs when a blood clot blocks a blood vessel leading to your brain or inside your brain for a short time. The symptoms are the same as stroke, but usually last less than an hour. The only difference between a stroke and a TIA is that with TIA, the blockage is transient (temporary). TIAs are a serious sign of stroke and should not be ignored.
For Pre-hospital staff
Act 54 has set guidelines for pre-hospital providers to transport a patient with stroke symptoms to the closest stroke center.
The Pennsylvania Department of Health maintains a directory of certified stroke centers that is updated weekly. We are listed as Milton S. Hershey Medical Center.