Stroke Care and Treatment Services | Neurology | Loyola Medicine

Stroke

Nationally Renowned Expertise in Stroke Treatment

Loyola Medicine’s stroke specialists are nationally acclaimed for their success in treating stroke patients. The neurology and neurosurgery care at Loyola University Medical Center has also been ranked among the top 30 in the country by U.S. News & World Report's 2019-20 Best Hospitals list.

Loyola's Stroke Center includes a nationally recognized team of experts in every facet of stroke-related care, including neurology, neurosurgery, neuroradiology, emergency medicine, rehabilitative services, social work, pharmacy and specialized neuroscience nursing.

It is critical to act at the first signs of stroke. Call 911 immediately if you or a loved one experiences any signs of a stroke. 

Why Choose Loyola for Stroke Care?

Loyola’s Stroke Center has been recognized by the American Stroke Association with its Get with the Guidelines® – Stroke Gold Plus Quality Achievement Award for nine years in a row for our commitment and success in implementing a higher standard of stroke care. Loyola is also the only academic medical center in the Chicago area accredited as a stroke specialty program by CARF (Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities) International. Loyola University Medical Center is certified by The Joint Commission as a comprehensive stroke center.

As an academic medical center, Loyola provides compassionate, exceptional care to patients and trains future leaders in neurology and neurosurgery.

The Stroke Center and neuro intensive care unit are staffed by dedicated stroke neurologists, hospitalists and Magnet-status nurses. 

What is a Stroke?

Signs of stroke

When you and your loved ones know the signs of a stroke, you can receive professional attention sooner. At Loyola, we say, “time equals brain;” the longer it takes to recognize the need for medical help, the more brain cells you may lose.

Basic signs and symptoms of a stroke include:

  • Confusion, dizziness or unsteadiness that comes on rapidly
  • Difficulty speaking or understanding someone talking
  • Sudden weakness or numbness of the face, arm or leg, especially on one side of the body
  • Unexpected, sudden and severe headache or “thunderclap” headache
  • Vision loss that occurs quickly, particularly in one eye

Do not ignore your symptoms, even if they only last five to 10 minutes. If you’ve had just one of these symptoms, you need to be screened right away.

 

Stroke kills more than 137,000 people each year in the United States and is the leading cause of adult disability. A stroke occurs when blood flow is blocked in a blood vessel leading to or within the brain, depriving brain cells of much-needed oxygen and nutrients. Below are the types of stroke:

Ischemic Stroke is a type of stroke caused by a lack of blood reaching part of the brain. Arteries carrying blood to the brain can be blocked by the narrowing of the artery caused by plaque, or the artery can be blocked by a blood clot.

Hemorrhagic Stroke is a type of stroke where a blood vessel ruptures in or near the brain. Blood collects in the brain tissue, which then causes cells in the area to weaken and die.

Transient Ischemic Attack (TIA) occurs when a blood clot blocks an artery for a short time. Symptoms of a TIA are the same as a stroke, but usually only last for a few minutes. People who have a TIA are at an increased risk for a major stroke.

DO NOT ignore a TIA. Call 911. 

Risk Factors

Lifestyle Changes to Prevent Stroke

  • High Blood Pressure is the #1 risk factor for stroke. Get blood pressure checked regularly and work with your physician to manage if it is high. 
  • Don't smoke and avoid second-hand smoke.
  • Improve your eating habits by eating more vegetables, fruit, whole-grains and lean meats. Reduce sodium, sugar and high fat intake. 
  • Be more physically active.
  • Reach and maintain a healthy weight.
  • Take medication as directed.

Understand Your Blood Pressure Numbers

Blood pressure categories

How is Stroke Diagnosed?

Your board-certified neurologist will quickly conduct physical and neurological exams and ask you several questions about your symptoms, checking your:

  • Balance
  • Circulation
  • Comprehension
  • Coordination
  • Muscle strength
  • Muscle tone
  • Reflexes
  • Sense of sight and touch
  • Speech

Your doctor may order some of the following tests:

  • Cerebral angiography
  • Brain CT scan (computed tomography scan)
  • Brain MRI (magnetic resonance imaging)
  • Carotid duplex
  • CT (computed tomography) angiography 
  • Echocardiogram​
  • Magnetic resonance angiography (MRA)

If you are experiencing a stroke in a hospital other than Loyola, our experts may be asked to consult on your case using our telemedicine tools for stroke. Using remotely controlled robotic systems, Loyola’s stroke experts can help patients at other hospitals, or even in another city, by consulting with the patient’s doctors over the internet. Through telemedicine, our neurologists can speak directly with a patient or a patient’s family. This technology allows our doctors to offer expert medical care and specialty advice to patients anytime, anywhere. Learn more about telemedicine tools for stroke.

How is Stroke Treated?

Call 911 immediately if you or a loved one experiences any signs of a stroke or mini-stroke. 

Loyola’s expert services cover every aspect of stroke care for patients and their families, including emergency stroke treatment.  Because the first three hours after a stroke are critically important, Loyola’s emergency stroke team is adept at immediately determining the best course of treatment through a variety of testing and diagnostic procedures. Loyola provides round-the-clock stroke care 365 days a year. 

Just after a stroke or mini-stroke, you can expect:

  • If you have a blocked artery, your doctor will recommend that you have a surgery called a carotid endarterectomy.
     
  • Your Loyola doctor will most likely have you admitted to the hospital for observation and to run tests.
     
  • You may also receive thrombolytic therapy drug treatments, such as IV tPA (intravenous tissue plasminogen activator), or blood thinners, such as aspirin or Coumadin.
     
  • Your doctors and nurses will talk with you about how to make lifestyle changes if necessary.
     
  • You will be encouraged to quit smoking if you are a smoker.

Loyola also offers long-term services for ongoing care following a stroke, including:

  • Acute stroke treatment — When patients have suffered an acute stroke, they may receive 24-hour monitoring and care in Loyola’s acute stroke unit. The acute stroke team works with our patients to identify potential complications, monitor changes in heart and brain function and assess and treat the cause of the stroke. If the patient is in critical condition, care is provided in Loyola’s state-of-the-art neuro intensive care unit.
     
  • Dedicated inpatient stroke care — The Loyola Stroke Center and neuro intensive care unit are staffed by certified stroke neurologists, hospitalists and nurses who work around the clock, 365 days a year, to detect and respond to the nuances of stroke. Our dedicated clinical neurosciences inpatient facility is a 40-bed unit in which this multidisciplinary team assesses and determines therapies and care for patients with acute ischemic and hemorrhagic strokes, carotid disease and other complex cerebrovascular disorders. Our goal is to provide all patients with the best possible outcome.

Comprehensive Services to Treat Stroke and Aid Stroke Recovery

Loyola’s compassionate team understands that a stroke can be life-changing not only for the patient, but also for family members. That’s why we take a multidisciplinary approach to patient care and provides extensive treatment support services for patients and families, including:

  • Neuro intensive care unit — Loyola’s 13-licensed-bed neuro intensive care unit is a leading-edge facility that is well-equipped to treat critically ill patients.
     
  • Second opinion stroke clinic — Whether the diagnosis is a transient ischemic attack (TIA), hemorrhagic or ischemic stroke, carotid artery disease, brain aneurysm or a cerebral arteriovenous malformation, Loyola’s multidisciplinary team of stroke experts will collaborate with you and your doctors to reach the best outcome based on current evidence, always taking into account a patient’s treatment goals. Learn more about Loyola’s second opinion stroke clinic.
     
  • Stroke networking support group — Loyola’s support group helps patients and family members cope with disabilities that can occur after a stroke. Our compassionate social workers will provide useful resources. Find all support groups.
     
  • Stroke rehabilitation services — Once a stroke patient has received emergency treatment and no longer is in a life-threatening state, recovery begins. Loyola offers complete rehabilitation services, including stroke rehabilitation, (which includes speech, occupational and physical therapy), acute inpatient rehabilitation, day rehabilitation, home care rehabilitation and neuromuscular rehabilitation.

Continuous Research to Improve Future Stroke Treatments

As an academic medical center, Loyola Medicine is dedicated to improving future treatments by conducting research on new medications and protocols. Loyola’s patients benefit from our research discoveries; read about Loyola’s current clinical trials.

Patient Education Resources

Below are helpful print outs and educational videos about stroke, post stroke care, and how to prevent another stroke from occurring. Loyola is also offering a virtual stroke support group. For more information on Stroke Support Group please contact StrokeSupportGroup@luhs.org

Patient Education Resource Print Outs

 

Patient Education Videos

Stroke
Cardiology
Diabetes 
Wellness 
Smoking

 

Contact Us

Mirjana Djakovic, MD

Mirjana Djakovic, BSN, RN
Stroke Program Coordinator
Loyola University Medical Center

mirjana.djakovic@luhs.org

Caitlin Huseth, MD

Caitlin Huseth, RN
Stroke Navigator
Loyola University Medical Center

caitlin.huseth@luhs.org