One Hospital. One Stroke Center. One Reason: You

When Stoke Occurs, You Need Expert Help — Fast

Every second counts when stroke occurs. That’s why St. Luke’s Primary Stroke Center is designed to provide rapid-response and treatment for acute stroke patients. We are nationally certified for our ability to treat strokes fast.

Our designation as a Primary Stroke Center means that we’re committed to a higher level of care. That includes an expert team, advanced treatment options, and the critical technology needed to restore blood flow while it’s still possible to limit damage.

All this, to ensure the highest level of quality stroke care and support, so you can safely return to living life as normally and quickly as possible.

Primary Stroke Center Accreditation means you’ll get expert help

Excellence runs throughout our heart and vascular program, including our Primary Stroke Center. St. Luke’s Hospital has received certification from DNV GL Healthcare as a Primary Stroke Center. This certification confirms our readiness to handle a full range of stroke-related medical problems and that we have the resources and commitment to provide the best possible stroke care.

We’ve invested in the right equipment, personnel and training to quickly assess and treat strokes.

The St. Luke’s Primary Stroke Center team includes a Neuro Interventionist who has completed a fellowship in stroke, the expertise of a stroke coordinator who follows every stroke case, plus a dedicated rehabilitation unit to help stroke patients return to everyday life as safely and quickly as possible.

Causes of stroke

A stroke occurs when the blood supply to your brain is interrupted or reduced. This deprives your brain of oxygen and nutrients, which can cause brain cells to die.

A stroke may be caused by a blocked artery (ischemic stroke) or the leaking or bursting of a blood vessel (hemorrhagic stroke). Some people may experience only a temporary disruption of blood flow to their brain (transient ischemic attack, or TIA).

Risk factors for stroke

There are many factors that can increase the risk of a stroke. Potentially treatable stroke risk factors include:

Lifestyle risk factors:

  • Being overweight or obese
  • Physical inactivity
  • Heavy or binge drinking
  • Use of illicit drugs such as cocaine and methamphetamines

Medical risk factors:

  • High blood pressure — the risk of stroke begins to increase at blood pressure readings higher than 120/80 millimeters of mercury (mm Hg)
  • Cigarette smoking or exposure to secondhand smoke
  • High cholesterol
  • Diabetes
  • Obstructive sleep apnea — a sleep disorder in which the oxygen level intermittently drops during the night
  • Cardiovascular disease, including heart failure, heart defects, heart infection or abnormal heart rhythm

Other factors associated with a higher risk of stroke include:

  • Personal or family history of stroke, heart attack or transient ischemic attack
  • Being age 55 or older
  • Race — African-Americans have a higher risk of stroke than people of other races
  • Gender — Men have a higher risk of stroke than women

Reducing your risk of stroke

The best approach following a stroke is a proactive one. The American Stroke Association recommends the following lifestyle changes – under the direction of a stroke doctor – for reducing the risk of stroke.

  • Eat a healthy diet
  • Exercise every day
  • Know your blood pressure
  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Limit intake of alcoholic beverages
  • Stop smoking
  • Do not use illicit drugs

Your St. Luke’s stroke doctor and care team can help you work these changes into your lifestyle while monitoring your safety and progress.


There are two potential treatments for a stroke – both are extremely time sensitive and depend on the patient seeking treatment as soon as possible.

Treatment options are selected by St. Luke’s specialized stroke team and based on the patient’s Last Known Well (LKW). LKW is the term used to define the most recent time a patient was proven to be neurologically at baseline.

Treatment options include:

Alteplase (t-PA)

Referred to as a “blood clot busting medicine”, this option can only be administered within four-and-a-half-hours of symptom onset.

Alteplase may be sufficient for smaller strokes but should be combined with additional procedures to treat ischemic strokes.

There may be some individuals within the four-and-a-half-hour window who are ineligible for Alteplase as it does carry a risk of bleeding.

Factors include patients who:

    • Are taking anti-coagulants
      • Patients prescribed Coumadin if INR is greater than 1.7
      • Xarelto, Pradaxa, Eliquis if taken in the past 48 hours
    • Have experienced recent trauma or surgery
    • Are at an increased risk of bleeding

    For these patients, the physicians and neuro-interventionists will determine the best possible treatment plan.


    This treatment can be performed up to 24 hours after the onset of symptoms. By threading a guidewire up past the heart and to the brain, a suction catheter can be placed to remove clots and return blood flow to the affected area of the brain.

    Although this procedure can be done within a larger window of time, it is still important to received treatment as soon as possible to ensure the best outcome.

It is important to call emergency services at the first sign of a stroke. From there, your St. Luke’s emergency department will be notified of patient arrival and can prepare the appropriate treatment.

Patients who are experiencing a stroke will lose 2 million neurons per minute. This ages the brain over three years for every hour a stroke is left untreated. With faster treatment, the patient’s odds for recovery are elevated greatly.

Complications caused by stroke

A stroke can cause temporary or permanent disabilities, depending on how long blood flow to the brain is restricted, and which part of the brain was affected.

Complications may include:

  • Paralysis or loss of muscle movement that may affect one side of the body. Physical therapy may help with regaining movement and control
  • Difficulty talking or swallowing. Therapy with a speech and language pathologist may help
  • Partial memory loss, difficulty thinking, making judgments, reasoning and understanding concepts
  • Emotional problems. Difficulty controlling your emotions, or depression may develop
  • Pain, numbness or other strange sensations in the parts of your body affected by stroke
  • Sensitivity to temperature changes, especially extreme cold after a stroke
  • Changes in behavior, sometimes becoming more withdrawn and less social or more impulsive
  • Limited ability for self-care and daily activities

As with any brain injury, the success of treating these complications will vary from person to person, but the key to limiting damage is getting treatment fast.

A stroke center that will help you regain what’s been lost

If a stroke has left you feeling like you’ve lost some control and ability, you’ll be happy to know that St. Luke’s Primary Stroke Center includes as designated rehabilitation unit that is staffed and equipped with caring professionals and advanced technology.

There are numerous approaches to stroke rehabilitation, some of which are still in the early stages of development. We’re dedicated to pursuing and improving every possible way to help you recover as much movement, control and ability as possible.

Your St. Luke’s stroke doctor and care team may include some of the following activities, depending on the part of the body or type of ability affected.

Physical activities:

  • Exercises to help improve your muscle strength and coordination, including therapy to help with swallowing
  • Mobility training may include learning to use walking aids, such as a walker or cane, or a plastic brace (orthosis) to stabilize and assist ankle strength
  • Constraint-induced therapy that involves restricting the use of an unaffected limb while you practice moving the affected limb to help improve its function
  • Range-of-motion therapy using exercises and other treatments to help lessen muscle tension and regain range of motion

St. Luke’s Primary Stroke Center

2019 Re-accrediation – DNVGL Survey Results

On May 13th, St. Luke’s was visited by DNVGL Healthcare for the Primary Stroke Center Accreditation yearly visit. Because of all the hard work of everyone in many departments, the surveyor was truly amazed with the amount of positive change St. Luke’s has made in the past year.

See Survey Results