Since its inception in late 1999, the NIH Stroke Center at Suburban Hospital has been dedicated to researching the most effective ways to diagnose and treat stroke using new technologies and drugs. With physician-scientists from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) working side-by-side with Suburban Hospital clinicians, the Suburban Hospital Stroke Program assures access to the most advanced medical protocols and cutting-edge technology.
This unique partnership has contributed to major advances in diagnosis and treatment for the more than 730,000 Americans who have strokes each year. The NIH Stroke Center at Suburban Hospital — the cornerstone of the Suburban Hospital Stroke Program — combines the world-class research capabilities of the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke with almost 70 years of clinical excellence at a hospital known for providing great medicine in a community setting. The result is one of the most advanced stroke treatment programs anywhere.
This collaborative effort was the first acute stroke treatment program in Montgomery County to receive certification as a Primary Stroke Center from The Joint Commission. More recently, The Suburban Hospital Stroke Program was named a specialty referral center for stroke by the Maryland Institute for Emergency Medical Services Systems.
24-Hour Stroke Team
The Suburban Hospital Stroke Program incorporates a rapid-response medical team that is highly trained in the newest, most effective diagnostic and treatment procedures. As soon as a stroke patient arrives at Suburban Hospital, this multidisciplinary team promptly goes into action to confirm the diagnosis, identify the type of stroke and quickly initiate an optimal treatment plan.
The NIH-Suburban Hospital MRI Center is an integral part of our stroke program. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) allows clinicians to see the stroke as it is occurring in the brain, while the damage is still potentially reversible. Ongoing NIH Stroke Center research projects focus on using MRI as a guide to evaluate new interventions for stroke that will extend the window of time for effective treatment.
Stroke patients are admitted either to our dedicated Stroke Unit or to the Intensive Care Unit, depending on their condition. Standardized care pathways ensure that patients benefit from treatment strategies that have been proven effective.
Thanks to new treatment options, many stroke patients are treated and discharged from Suburban Hospital within a few days with few residual issues. However, extensive inpatient and outpatient rehabilitation services are available at the hospital and at NRH/Suburban Regional Rehab for those who require additional therapy. Patient and family education, combined with physical, occupational and speech therapy, are making a significant difference in patients’ lives.
What Is a Stroke?
There are two major types of stroke: ischemic and hemorrhagic. Ischemic strokes are the most common, accounting for 80 percent of all strokes. They result from a blockage of blood flow to the brain, usually caused by a clot. A hemorrhagic stroke occurs when a weakened blood vessel bursts, creating bleeding within or around the brain. Both kinds of stroke quickly rob brain cells of oxygen-carrying blood, and body functions controlled by those cells are damaged or permanently lost.
Signs and Symptoms of Stroke
Despite the fact that stroke is the fourth leading cause of death in the United States and the leading cause of adult disability, fewer than 20 percent of Americans can recognize the symptoms of stroke. Do you know these signs?
- Sudden numbness or weakness of the face, arm or leg (especially on one side of the body)
- Sudden confusion, trouble speaking or understanding speech
- Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes
- Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination
- Sudden severe headache with no known cause
If you or someone around you experiences any of these symptoms, call 911 and get to a hospital immediately. Every minute counts!
Are You at Risk for Stroke?
Stroke can affect anyone, but some people are more at risk. These risk factors include high blood pressure and high cholesterol, cigarette smoking and a history of heart disease and diabetes. Other factors that you cannot control include age, gender, ethnicity and heredity.
What Can You Do to Prevent a Stroke?
While family history of stroke plays a role in your risk, there are many risk factors you can control:
- If you have high blood pressure, work with your doctor to get it under control. Many people do not realize they have high blood pressure, which usually produces no symptoms but is a major risk factor for heart disease and stroke. Managing your high blood pressure is the most important thing you can do to avoid stroke.
- If you smoke, quit.
- If you have diabetes, learn how to manage it. As with high blood pressure, diabetes usually causes no symptoms but it increases the chance of stroke.
- If you are overweight, start maintaining a healthy diet and exercising regularly.