Updates

BJC and Saint Luke’s Officially Combine as BJC Health System

Why choose us for stroke care? 

BJC HealthCare works with Washington University physicians, BJC Medical Group, and providers across the region to deliver extraordinary care. When it comes to a stroke, “time is brain.” Trust your care to experts with a proven track record of excellence. We have earned multiple recognitions for timely stroke treatment.

We offer: 

  • Quick treatment: Our acute stroke care team provides some of the fastest critical care for stroke patients in the country. This rapid and accurate diagnosis and treatment means a greater chance of surviving stroke, preventing long-term brain damage and shortening recovery time.
  • Multispecialty team: You receive treatment from an entire team of specialized healthcare providers, including hospitalists, neurologists, neurosurgeons, critical care physicians, interventional neuroradiologists, Magnet®-recognized nurses, rehabilitation specialists and a registered dietitian.
  • National recognition: Our commitment to and success in improving stroke care has earned us national recognition. The American Heart Association, American Stroke Association and the Joint Commission have awarded our teams for outstanding, comprehensive stroke care.
  • TeleStroke: When time is of the essence, not all patients in the region or state can get to a stroke center that provides the highest level of care fast enough. As part of our commitment to making sure patients have the best acute stroke care possible, we created the Stroke Network. This collaborative network utilizes telehealth to streamline and improve stroke care, regardless of where you are.
  • Research-based treatment: Our team participates in bimonthly stroke conferences presented by Washington University's Department of Neurology. Each conference presents the latest evidenced-based medical research with a focus on the care and prevention of stroke. We offer you the latest, most effective treatments, including through clinical trials. 
  • Stroke recovery: Recovering from a stroke can be a long process. Our dedicated neurorehabilitation team leads the Post-Stroke Rehabilitation Clinic to help you make a full recovery and regain cognitive function after a stroke.
What is stroke?

A stroke is a medical emergency that occurs because of an interruption to blood supply in the brain. When this happens, brain tissue does not get the oxygen and nutrients it needs, and brain cells begin to die in minutes. Early stroke treatment is crucial to reducing brain damage, disabilities and other complications.

According to the National Stroke Association, up to 80% of strokes can be prevented.
To prevent stroke, start by getting regular exercise, eating a healthy diet, maintaining a healthy weight and not smoking.

Additionally, it is important to know your stroke risk factors and manage them with your physician.

Stroke risk factors

You have a higher risk of stroke if you have:

  • Diabetes and uncontrolled blood sugar

  • Heart disease, especially atrial fibrillation 

  • High blood pressure or high cholesterol

  • History of smoking

  • Obstructive sleep apnea

  • Sickle cell disease

You can manage these risk factors with the help of your physician. However, there are some risk factors that you can’t control, including: 

  • Age: Stroke risk doubles for every decade after age 55.
  • Family history: Your risk increases if you have a parent, grandparent, sister or brother who has had a stroke.
  • History of stroke: Having a transient ischemic attack (TIA), a kind of stroke where the interruption to blood flow is temporary, increases your risk of another stroke.
  • Sex: Men have a higher risk at younger ages, while women have a higher risk over age 85.
  • Race: Black Americans have a higher risk of stroke than other races.
Stroke risk factors in women 

About 55,000 more strokes occur in women than men in the United States every year. Stroke is the third leading cause of death for women and the fifth leading cause for men.

Several stroke risk factors are unique to women, including:

  • Hormone replacement therapy

  • Oral birth control pills

  • Pregnancy

Other stroke factors simply tend to be more common in women, including:

  • Atrial fibrillation

  • Cerebral vein thrombosis

  • Depression

  • Diabetes

  • Migraine headaches

Fortunately, many of these risk factors are manageable. Speak with your physician about your stroke risk factors and how you can manage them.

What are the types of stroke?

Strokes can be caused by clot formation in your brain (thrombosis), blood vessel blockage (embolism) or bleeding (hemorrhage). The types of stroke include:

Ischemic stroke

Ischemic strokes occur when blood carrying oxygen and nutrients to the brain is blocked. They can occur when a blood clot develops in the brain (cerebral thrombosis) or when a clot develops elsewhere in the body and travels to the brain (cerebral embolism). 

Hemorrhagic stroke

These strokes are caused by a brain aneurysm or other blood vessel abnormality that ruptures and bleeds. 

Transient ischemic attack 

TIAs occur because of a temporary clot. Many refer to this as a “mini-stroke.” A TIA is a warning sign of a future stroke and requires emergency medical care.

How is stroke treated? 

There are many factors to consider when treating the different types of strokes. Your healthcare team will decide based on your specific needs, medical history and more.

If surgery can be avoided, common non-surgical stroke treatments include: 

  • Blood pressure management
    Medicine may be necessary to lower your blood pressure and limit bleeding. This makes it easier for your blood to clot and seal a damaged blood vessel.
  • Endovascular treatments
    Interventional neuroradiologists identify and remove clots using small catheters inserted into the brain's arteries.
  • Fibrinolytic therapy
    This medicine may be necessary to break down blood clots formed in blood vessels.
  • Stroke rehabilitation
    People who have experienced strokes often have lingering medical problems. Neurorehabilitation helps you regain your highest level of independent function.
  • Thrombectomy
    We use endovascular techniques to remove blood clots from inside blood vessels to prevent stroke.
  • Tissue plasminogen activator (tPA)
    Tissue plasminogen activator is a clot-busting drug that can significantly reduce long-term disability. tPA is the only FDA-approved thrombolytic drug for acute ischemic stroke, but it needs to be given within the first 4.5 hours after a stroke occurs.
What are the signs of a stroke? 

When it comes to a stroke, remember to BE FAST and call 911. First responders can begin providing vital care during transport to the hospital.

Check for any one of these signs that could indicate a stroke:

  • Balance: Does the person have a sudden loss of balance?
  • Eyes: Has the person lost vision in one or both eyes?
  • Face: Does the person's face look uneven?
  • Arm: Is one arm hanging down?
  • Speech: Is the person's speech slurred? Do they have trouble speaking or seem confused?
  • Time: Call 911 now!
Telestroke Care at BJC

Hospitals in the Washington University and Barnes-Jewish Hospital Stroke Network have real-time access to some of the nation’s top stroke experts — even when they’re 150 miles away.

Select hospitals have begun to use stroke telemedicine to receive direct care consults for complicated stroke patients. Phone, Internet and video conferencing allows Stroke Network neurologists and radiologists to be “remotely present” at distant hospitals. Together with the partner hospital, physicians can diagnose stroke patients, begin timely treatment and arrange for transport to another stroke center, if needed.

For acute stroke care, telemedicine means faster, more accurate on-site treatment for patients at distant hospitals. For you, it means receiving local care while still benefitting from the expertise of a certified Comprehensive Stroke Center.

TeleStroke provides:

  • Access to an even more advanced level of stroke care

  • Higher rates of receiving potentially life-saving therapies

  • Improved outcomes in long-term stroke recovery 

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