Expert stroke care in Richmond

Retreat Doctors’ Hospital provides quality stroke treatment to our patients in central Virginia. We aim to provide personalized care to patients who have experienced a stroke and any complications that may result from it.

To learn more about our stroke care, call us at (804) 254-5100.

Advanced Primary Stroke Center

As a Joint-Commission Certified Primary Stroke Center, our hospital is recognized for making exceptional efforts to foster better outcomes for stroke care. Our expert doctors also use onsite examinations and telemedicine capabilities to collaborate with neurologists at our sister facility, Henrico Doctors’ Hospital.

What is a stroke?

Stroke is the fifth leading cause of death in the U.S. and a leading cause of adult disability, according to the National Stroke Association.

A stroke occurs when blood flow to an area of the brain is cut off, which deprives brain cells of oxygen and causes them to die. A stroke can cause you to permanently lose speech, movement and memory.

There are two main types of stroke: hemorrhagic and ischemic.

Diagram of Cerebral Hemorrhage

Hemorrhagic stroke is either a brain aneurysm burst or a weakened blood vessel leak. Blood spills into or around the brain and creates swelling and pressure, damaging cells and tissue in the brain. While only 15 percent of all strokes are hemorrhagic, they are responsible for 40 percent of all stroke deaths.

  • Intracerebral hemorrhage is the most common type of hemorrhagic stroke that happens when a blood vessel inside the brain bursts and leaks blood into surrounding blood tissue. High blood pressure and aging blood vessels are the most common causes of this type of stroke. Arteriovenous malformation (AVM) can also cause intracerebral hemorrhagic stroke. AVM is a genetic condition of an abnormal connection between arteries and veins and most often occurs in the brain or spine.
  • Subarachnoid hemorrhage involves bleeding in the area between the brain and the tissue covering the brain, known as the subarachnoid space. This type of stroke is most often caused by a burst aneurysm. Other causes can include AVM, bleeding disorders, head injuries and blood thinners.

Ischemic stroke occurs when a blood clot blocks a blood vessel carrying blood to the brain. High blood pressure is the greatest risk factor for this type of stroke. Ischemic strokes account for about 87 percent of all strokes.

Other types of stroke

In an embolic stroke, a blood clot or plaque fragment—called an embolus—forms somewhere in the body (usually the heart) and travels to the brain. Once in the brain, the clot travels to a blood vessel small enough to block its passage. The clot lodges there, blocking the blood vessel and causing a stroke. About 15 percent of embolic strokes occur in people with atrial fibrillation.

Caused by a thrombus (blood clot) formed inside one of the arteries that supply blood to the brain, a thrombotic stroke occurs in people with high cholesterol levels and atherosclerosis. Two types of thrombus can cause thrombotic stroke:

  • Large vessel thrombosis is the most common form of thrombotic stroke, occurring in the brain’s larger arteries. In most cases, long-term atherosclerosis in combination with rapid blood clot formation causes thrombotic stroke. High cholesterol is a common risk factor for this type of stroke.
  • Small vessel disease happens when a very small arterial vessel blocks blood flow. Little is known about the causes of this type of stroke, but it is closely linked to blood pressure.

Know the signs of a stroke

If any of these symptoms appear suddenly, dial 911 and seek emergency care:

  • Numbness or weakness of the face, arm or leg, especially on one side of the body
  • Confusion, trouble speaking or understanding
  • Trouble seeing in one or both eyes
  • Trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination
  • A severe headache with no known cause

When identifying the signs of a stroke, it is important to act FAST:

Face: Ask the person to smile. Does one side of the face droop?

Arms: Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm drift downward?

Speech: Ask the person to repeat a simple phrase. Is their speech slurred or strange?

Time: If you observe any of these signs, call 911 immediately.

Telemedicine and tPA administration

Tissue plasminogen activator (tPA) administration is used for acute stroke patients. tPA is a clot-busting drug to treat blockages in the arteries in the brain. The sooner it is given, the more brain tissue can be preserved. This is very important during a stroke because two million brain cells die every minute you are not treated.

Telemedicine increases the quality and convenience of healthcare services, providing patients with better, faster and more specialized care. This technology leads to faster administration of the clot buster drug, which can lead to improved outcomes in as little as six months. It is more convenient for the patient as they can receive specialized care faster, no matter what time of the day or night. Our neurologists use this technology and continue to care for the patient throughout their stay.

Stroke prevention

As scary as stroke can be, you can manage your lifestyle to decrease the likelihood of it happening. Living a healthy lifestyle contributes greatly to controlling your risk factors for stroke and the complications associated with it. Lifestyle changes that can be taken to help prevent stroke include:

  • Regulating or eliminating hypertension (high blood pressure)
  • Increasing physical activity
  • Improving poor diet
  • Decreasing stress
  • Eliminating cigarette smoking
  • Losing weight if you’re considered obese
  • Reducing alcohol consumption
  • Increasing consumption of heart-healthy foods, such as Omega-3s, healthy nuts and vegetables

Take our stroke risk assessment.