Accredited Primary Stroke Center in Richmond

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. Yet, research indicates that too few people know what a stroke is and how to recognize the symptoms. At Henrico Doctors’ Hospital in Richmond, Virginia, we not only treat stroke and offer stroke rehabilitation, but strive to educate our community about stroke symptoms that require emergency care. After all, every second counts and the earlier a patient receives medical intervention the better.

If you suspect that your or someone you know is experiencing a stroke, call 911 immediately.

Award-winning stroke care

At Henrico Doctors’ Hospital, we are nationally recognized by Healthgrades™ and named among the top 10 percent in the nation for Treatment of Stroke. Our hospital is also a recipient of the Stroke Care Excellence Award and has been named a Five-Star Recipient for Treatment of Stroke. We are a Certified Primary Stroke Center as designated by The Joint Commission

What is a stroke?

A stroke is a medical event that occurs when blood flow to an area of the brain is cut off. When the blood flow ceases, brain cells are deprived of oxygen and begin to die. A stroke may cause a person to lose speech, movement and memory. There are two types of stroke, hemorrhagic and ischemic.

Stroke symptoms

If you think someone you know is having a stroke, remember 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, even if they've gone away, call 911 immediately. Take note of what time the symptoms appeared.

Signs of stroke can appear suddenly—if you notice any of the below below symptoms, call 911 and seek immediate emergency care.

  • Numbness or weakness of 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
  • Severe headache with no known cause

Types of stroke

Ischemic stroke

An ischemic stroke occurs when a blood vessel carrying blood to the brain is blocked by a blood clot, stopping the blood from reaching the brain. High blood pressure is the most important risk factor for this type of stroke. About 87 percent of all strokes are ischemic. An ischemic stroke can occur in two ways:

  • Embolic stroke. This type of stroke occurs when a blood clot or plaque fragments form somewhere in the body, usually in the heart, and travel to the brain. Once in the brain, the clot travels to a blood vessel small enough to block the passage of blood flow. This lack of blood flow is the cause of the stroke. About 15 percent of embolic strokes occur in people with atrial fibrillation (afib).
  • Thrombotic stroke. This stroke occurs when a blood clot forms inside one of the arteries that supplies blood to the brain. This stroke typically occurs in people with high cholesterol levels and atherosclerosis. Two different types of blood clots can cause a thrombotic stroke.
    • Large vessel thrombosis is the most common form of thrombotic stroke, and it occurs in the brain’s larger arteries. In most cases, it is caused by long-term atherosclerosis in combination with rapid blood clot formation.
    • Small vessel disease happens when blood flow is blocked to a very small arterial vessel (small vessel disease or lacunar infarction). Little is known about the causes of this type of stroke, but it is closely linked to high blood pressure.

Hemorrhagic stroke

Only about 15 percent of strokes are considered hemorrhagic, making them the least common type of stroke. However, they are responsible for nearly 40 percent of all stroke deaths.

A hemorrhagic stroke occurs when a brain aneurysm bursts or results from a leak in a weakened blood vessel. As a result, blood spills into or around the brain and creates swelling and pressure, ultimately damaging cells and tissue within the brain. There are two types of hemorrhagic stroke.

  • Intracerebral hemorrhage. This is the most common type of hemorrhagic stroke, occurring when a blood vessel inside the brain bursts and leaks into the surrounding brain tissue. The bleeding causes brain cells to die and the affected portion of the brain to cease working properly. Common causes of an intracerebral hemorrhage include high blood pressure and aging blood vessels.
    • AVM (arteriovenous malformation). In some circumstances, an intracerebral hemorrhage can be caused by AVM. AVM is a genetic condition of abnormal connections between arteries and veins and most often occurs in the brain or spine. The cause of AVM is unknown, but once diagnosed, it can be treated successfully.
  • Subarachnoid hemorrhage. A subarachnoid hemorrhage involves bleeding in the area between the brain and the tissue covering the brain, known as the subarachnoid space. The most common cause of this kind of stroke is a burst aneurysm. Other causes may include AVM, bleeding disorders, head injuries and blood thinners.

Stroke telemedicine services

Telemedicine, the ability to provide healthcare remotely through technology, increases the quality and convenience of the healthcare services we provide at Henrico Doctors’ Hospital. It can help provide patients with better, faster, and more specialized care. Doctors can provide more convenient, real-time interactions with patients and improve communications with other medical staff. Since "time=brain" when it comes to stroke, every minute counts.

Telemedicine allows the specialists in our neurology department to view a patient's head scans, prior reports and records in order to make an informed decision about care and then use this information to make informed decisions about your care.

The most important decision is tPA (tissue plasminogen activator) administration in acute stroke patients. tPA is a clot-busting drug used for blockages of arteries in the brain. The sooner it is administered, the more brain tissue is preserved.

Telemedicine practices lead to a faster administration of tPA, which can lead to improved outcomes in as little as six months. This provides life-saving care for patients as they can receive specialized care faster, no matter what time of the day or night.

Stroke rehabilitation services

Sometimes patients need help recovering from a stroke. Our comprehensive stroke treatment services include neurological and stroke rehabilitation, which can begin as soon as you're cleared by your physician, even if you're still in the hospital.

Our experienced therapists can assist with all aspects of recovery, improving your cognitive, movement and speech capabilities, so you can get back to living an independent life.

Stroke videos