When you are in need of stroke care, you want the best of the best. With that in mind, Coliseum Medical Centers and Coliseum Northside Hospital have earned the Joint Commission Primary Stroke Center designation, the gold standard for ensuring the highest level of care is immediately available. Coliseum works with emergency and ambulance services to continually improve the speed of getting you treated and has far exceeded national standards for that process.

Get with the Guidelines - Stroke Silver Elite Plus

Coliseum Medical Centers has received the 2020 American Heart Association/American Stroke Association's Get with the Guidelines - Stroke Silver Elite Plus and the Target: Type 2 Diabetes Honor Roll Awards. The award recognizes the hospital's commitment and success in ensuring stroke patients receive the most appropriate treatment according to nationally recognized, research-based guidelines based on the latest scientific evidence.

What is a Stroke?

A stroke is a “brain attack” which causes damage to part of the brain. It occurs when the blood supply is suddenly reduced or stopped. A stroke may also be called a cerebrovascular accident or CVA. The part of the brain deprived of blood dies and can no longer function.

How does it occur?

Blood cannot get to your brain when a blood vessel is blocked or bursts inside the brain. This can happen in different ways.

  • A blood clot in an artery blocks the blood flow to the brain.
  • A fatty deposit called plaque forms inside a blood vessel, breaks away, and blocks an artery in the brain.
  • An artery in the brain tears or bursts. Blood spills out into the brain. This kind of stroke often happens without warning and is most often related to having high blood pressure.

Know the Signs & Symptoms

  • Sudden numbness or weakness of the face, arm or leg (especially on one side of the body)
  • Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination
  • Sudden trouble seeing with one or both eyes
  • Sudden confusion, trouble speaking or understanding speech
  • Sudden severe headache with no known cause

Can a Stroke be Stopped?

Today there are treatments that can reduce the risk of damage from the most common type of stroke, but only if you get help quickly – within three hours of your first symptoms. That is why every minute counts!


physician looking at x-ray image

Face – Ask the person to smile. Does one side of the face droop?

Arms – Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm drift downward?

Speech – Ask the person to repeat a simple sentence. Are the words slurred? Can he/she repeat the sentence correctly?

Time – If the person shows any of these symptoms, time is important because treatment time is limited!

Call 9-1-1! Time Lost = Brain Lost

Diagnosis & Treatment

There are two main types of stroke. When blood flow to the brain is blocked, it is called an ischemic stroke. A hemorrhagic stroke occurs if a blood vessel breaks and bleeds into or around the brain.

Patients brought to Coliseum Medical Center with stroke symptoms are evaluated in our Emergency Department

Evaluation for stroke includes:

  • CT scan of the brain
  • Blood work
  • Chest x-ray
  • EKG
  • Swallow studies

Patients who are diagnosed with an ischemic stroke, and whose stroke symptoms began within the previous 4.5 hours, are given a clot dissolving drug (t-PA) to help restore blood flow to the brain.

Patients diagnosed with a hemorrhagic stroke may be taken for surgical or non-surgical treatment or be taken to our Intensive Care Unit for monitoring.

Patients who need hospitalization are treated on our dedicated stroke unit. This unit is staffed by nurses who have received additional training in stroke care. These nurses teach all patients about follow up care, stroke prevention and lifestyle modification before they leave the hospital. Our stroke team includes caregivers from:

  • Emergency medicine
  • Neurology
  • Neurosurgery
  • Radiology
  • Rehabilitation services
  • Nursing
  • Laboratory
  • Neurologist

All stroke patients are referred to our on-site Rehabilitation Services for physical therapy and speech therapy, as well as our Home Physicians Care Program.

Risk Factors

Any of the following factors can increase your risk of stroke.

  • High blood pressure
  • Diabetes
  • High cholesterol
  • Smoking
  • Being overweight
  • Family history of stroke
  • Heart disease
  • Sickle cell disease
  • Drug abuse
  • History of “mini strokes” often called TIA’s (Transient Ischemic Attacks)