Stroke Intervention: Every Second Counts

WVU Medicine Stroke Team

According to the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association, stroke is the number five cause of death and a leading cause of adult disability in the United States. On average, someone suffers a stroke every 40 seconds; someone dies of a stroke every four minutes; and 795,000 people suffer a new or recurrent stroke each year.

In recognition of its role as a regional and national leader in stroke care,  WVU Medicine’s Stroke Center has earned the highest honor possible from the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association’s Get With the Guidelines® program.

The Stroke Gold Plus Quality Achievement Award and the Target: Stroke Honor Roll Elite Plus Award are reserved for hospital teams who have some of the fastest tPA treatment times in the country and who are consistent high performers in compliance with quality care measures. These are the most up-to-date treatment guidelines with the goal of speeding recovery and reducing death and disability for stroke patients.

Telestroke: Taking rapid treatment to youGet With the Guidelines-Stroke uses the teachable moment, the time soon after a patient has had a stroke, when they learn how to manage their risk factors while still in the hospital and recognize the F.A.S.T. warning signs of a stroke. F.A.S.T. stands for:

  • Face Drooping – Does one side of the face droop or is it numb? Ask the person to smile. Is the person’s smile uneven?
  • Arm Weakness – Is one arm weak or numb? Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm drift downward?
  • Speech Difficulty – Is speech slurred? Is the person unable to speak or hard to understand? Ask the person to repeat a simple sentence, like “The sky is blue.” Is the sentence repeated correctly?
  • Time to call 9-1-1 – If someone shows any of these symptoms, even if the symptoms go away, call 9-1-1 and get the person to the hospital immediately. Check the time so you’ll know when the first symptoms appeared.

The Stroke Center at WVU Medicine has an emergency response team available 24 hours a day, seven days a week to evaluate and treat a stroke in time to minimize damage. West Virginia University Hospitals is designated a Primary Stroke Center by the Joint Commission in recognition of excellence in patient care.

Know the symptoms of stroke. Do not delay in seeking emergency care.

The WVU Stroke Center has an emergency response team available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to evaluate and treat a stroke in time to minimize damage.

When a stroke occurs or is suspected, call 911.

The 911 operator will contact an emergency medical service to dispatch an ambulance. When the emergency response team examines the stroke victim, they will contact WVU Hospitals with vital patient information.

The WVU Stroke Team, comprised of neurologists, emergency medicine physicians, radiologists and neurosurgeons, will begin to prepare before the patient arrives at the hospital.

The latest treatment options ensure a greater chance of survival. These treatments can stop a stroke while it is happening or drastically reduce the amount of damage it causes. Patients entering with symptoms of a stroke are rapidly assessed with a trio of tests, including CT scan, angiography, and perfusion, which then guide the choice of treatment.

WVU Hospitals is designated a Primary Stroke Center by the Joint Commission. The WVU Stroke Center cares for patients in the tri-state region.

WVU Medicine Health Report: Peripheral Artery Disease

Related Content

About Strokes

Stroke Symptoms


Neurointerventional Services

About the WVU Stroke Center

Stroke Support

Stroke Related Clinical Trials

American Stroke Association

National Family Caregivers Association

National Stroke Association

National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke Education

Information about Strokes

What is a Stroke?

A stroke is a type of cardiovascular disease that affects the arteries leading to and within the brain.

A stroke occurs when a blood vessel that carries oxygen and nutrients to the brain is either blocked by a clot or bursts. When that happens, part of the brain cannot get the blood (and oxygen) it needs, so it starts to die.

A stroke is a life-threatening emergency.

The multidisciplinary Stroke Team at the WVU Stroke Center is equipped to treat stroke patients and to identify stroke symptoms as quickly as possible. The WVU Medicine Emergency Department has implemented an Acute Stroke Protocol to ensure the rapid evaluation and treatment of patients who are potential candidates for this stroke treatment. If you or a loved one is experiencing any of the stroke symptoms, seek qualified help immediately.

Stroke Facts

  • Stroke is the third leading cause of death in the U.S.
  • 750,000 Americans suffer strokes each year
  • Approximately 55,000 more women than men have a stroke each year
  • Stroke is the leading cause of adult disability
  • Many strokes are preventable

Types of Strokes

Hemorrhagic Stroke: A disruption in blood flow to the brain due to a sudden rupture of a blood vessel within the brain.

Ischemic Stroke: A sudden decrease in blood flow and oxygen delivery to a portion of the brain caused by a blood clot or a gradual build up of plaque and other fatty deposits, which results in death or injury to brain cells.

Transient Ischemic Attack (TIA): A sudden, temporary decrease in blood flow and oxygen delivery to the brain that results in stroke symptoms that fade within an hour.

Act FAST at these common signs of a stroke:

Face: Does the face look uneven? Ask the person to smile.
Arm: Does one arm drift down? Ask the person to raise both arms.
Speech: Does their speech sound strange? Ask the person to repeat a simple phrase.
Time: If you observe any of these symptoms, call 9-1-1 immediately.

The WVU Stroke Team includes specialists from the fields of neurosurgery, neurology, radiology and emergency medicine. The newest drug therapies and state-of-the-art technologies are offered to provide timely treatment of stroke, in order to minimize permanent damage. Prevention and rehabilitation services also are offered.

Available treatments include Thrombolytic Agents and Stents

  • Thrombolytic Agents
    • Intra-arterial rtPA
    • Intravenous rtPA
  • Stents
  • Carotid Angioplasty
  • MERCI Retriever Device

In 1996, the FDA approved the use of a new drug called tissue plasminogen activator, or tPA, for the treatment of stroke. The drug is used to dissolve blood clots and restore blood flow that cause many strokes. These drugs and also reduce the amount of damage strokes produce.

The largest drawback to this type of intervention is time, these drugs must be given within three hours from the start of symptoms to be effective.

Joint Commission Accreditation

The WVU Stroke Center is nationally recognized for excellence by the Joint Commission. This designation helps the public know that we offer the best possible outcomes for stroke patients.

Stroke Get with the Guidelines

The WVU Stroke Center meets or exceeds national benchmarks for the following metrics:

  • Time to IV Thrombolytic Therapy in 60 minutes or less after triage (ED arrival) = 93 percent
  • Time to IV Thrombolytic Therapy in 45 minutes or less after triage (ED arrival) = 79 percent
  • Percent of acute ischemic stroke patients who arrived within 120 minutes of time last known well and whom IV t-PA was initiated within 180 minutes of the time last know well = 100 percent
  • Median door-to-needle time for all acute ischemic stroke patients treated with IV t-PA = 39 minutes (benchmark: 60 minutes)

In addition, the WVU Stroke Center provides:

  • An Acute Stroke Team that is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, including:
    • Emergency Medicine Staff, EMS and HealthNet Aeromedical Services
    • Neurology and Neurosurgery
    • Radiology and Neuro-Interventional Radiology
    • Nursing
    • Pharmacy
    • Inpatient Clinical Labs
    • Rehabilitation Services
    • Care Management
  • Stroke and Intensive Care Units staffed by a multi-disciplinary team of registered nurses and therapists who have received extensive stroke education
  • A performance improvement process that uses the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association Get With the Guidelines-Stroke Registry
  • Advanced diagnostic and imaging techniques
  • Prevention, early intervention, and rehabilitation services provided in the WVU Neurology Clinic for patients who are at risk for stroke or who have had a stroke

The WVU Stroke Center has earned Primary Stroke Center Certification from The Joint Commission and is a recipient of the American Heart Association Gold Plus Performance Award and Target Stroke Honor Roll.

After a stroke, it is vital that patients and their families get the information and support they need. Our dedicated, trained, stroke nursing staff provides support and serves as an invaluable resource for patients and family members regarding rehabilitation and community resources.

Through the WVU Stroke Center a ShareGivers® stroke support group provides education to the stroke survivor and care giver about topics relating to stroke. To learn more about the WVU Stroke Center Stroke Support meetings, please call 304-598-6395.

ShareGivers® is a peer visiting training program for stroke survivors, their family members, friends and others. The program takes participants through a series of classes designed to address the physical, mental, and emotional changes stroke survivors may face after their stroke.

After completing the program, peer visitors are equipped with the skills and knowledge they need to help others move forward after their stroke. ShareGivers® allows people with a common bond to share their experiences, encourage progress, and lend support throughout the recovery process.