Emergency Stroke Services

Immediate emergency treatment is critical to surviving a stroke with the least amount of damage to your brain and your ability to function. Every stroke or transient ischemic attack must be treated as a life-threatening emergency.

Know the Warning Signs of Stroke

If you notice one or more of these signs in another person or yourself, do not wait. Call 911 or your local emergency medical services number immediately and get treatment at a hospital. Every second counts. Treatment is more effective when given quickly.

The signs of a stroke are:

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

Not all of these signs occur with every stroke. Sometimes they go away and return. If even some of these signs occur, get help fast.

If you experience some of these signs but they last only a few minutes, you may be having a transient ischemic attack (TIA). You should call 911 immediately and seek treatment in a hospital.

A TIA is considered a mini-stroke and a potential warning sign that a stroke may follow. About one out of 10 strokes happen after a person has had a TIA. However, among people who have had one or more TIA, about 36% will later have stroke. A person who has had one or more TIAs is 9.5 times more likely to have a stroke than someone of the same age and sex who has not.

If you notice one or more of these signs in another person, do not wait. Call 911 and get them to a hospital right away!

In the Event of a Possible Stroke

Time is vital.

If you are going to receive tPA, a clot-dissolving drug, or other appropriate therapy, you must get to a hospital quickly so a doctor can diagnose your stroke and treat you within three hours after symptoms begin.

In the hospital emergency room, tests will determine if a TIA, stroke or another medical problem caused your symptoms.

To increase your chances of surviving a stroke, follow these four steps in the when you first experience symptoms:

  • Know the warning signs and act fast if you experience them. Recognize the warning signs and note the time when they first occur. Call 911 immediately. Tell the operator you or the person you are with is having stroke warning signs.
  • Rapid start of prehospital care. Receive early assessments and pre-hospital care by emergency medical services personnel.
  • Rapid emergency medical services (EMS) system transport and hospital pre-notification. Get to an appropriate hospital quickly via the EMS. Ambulance personnel will notify the emergency room.
  • Rapid diagnosis and treatment at the hospital. Receive prompt evaluation of medical data and treatment to restore blood flow to the brain or other treatments as appropriate by a properly staffed and equipped hospital.

At the Stroke Program at Shands at the University of Florida, a neurologist is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week to rapidly evaluate persons who are experiencing warning signs of stroke.

Shands at the University of Florida has state-of-the-art brain imaging technologies, such as CT and MRI scans, for rapid diagnosis and identification of the location of the stroke.

Medical interventions are available through the Stroke Program, including tPA, blood pressure management, blood thinners or other medications that are needed.

Neurosurgeons and vascular surgeons are on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week. In addition, neuro-interventionalists are on call to treat intracranial blood clots, aneurysms and blocked arteries that cannot be reached by conventional surgery.