Stroke care in Nashville and Bowling Green

TriStar Health hospitals are uniquely equipped to support stroke patients in Middle Tennessee and Southern Kentucky. Our neurologists have extensive experience and training in treating all types of strokes.

Additionally, thanks to the latest advances in telemedicine, we can provide expert diagnosis even at community hospitals and emergency rooms (ERs) that do not have on-call neurologists. We can then move forward with care, which may involve moving you to one of our comprehensive stroke centers.

A stroke is a major medical emergency. If you suspect someone is having a stroke, dial 911 immediately.

Types of stroke

A stroke happens when there is a sudden interruption of blood flow to the brain. A person may have a stroke because of a blood clot or similar blockage. A stroke can also happen when a blood vessel bursts.

There are three main types of stroke:

Hemorrhagic stroke

A hemorrhagic stroke occurs when there is bleeding in the brain. This may happen as a result of complications such as aneurysms (enlargement of an artery) or abnormal tangling of blood vessels.

Hemorrhaging is typically either intracerebral or subarachnoid. An intracerebral hemorrhage happens when an artery in the brain bursts. A subarachnoid hemorrhage happens when bleeding occurs between the brain and the thin tissues covering it.

Ischemic stroke

Ischemic strokes are the most common type of stroke. An ischemic stroke happens when blood flow to the brain is blocked.

Transient ischemic attack (TIA)

A TIA is a type of stroke that lasts only a few minutes. Blood flow can be blocked briefly by a burst blood vessel or blockage (e.g., a plaque buildup that decreases blood flow to the brain).

Though TIAs are short, they still need emergency medical attention. If you notice any signs of a stroke - even if they pass quickly - call 911 for help.

Signs of a stroke

Recognizing stroke symptoms is the best way to prevent brain damage. These are the most common signs of a stroke:

  • Sudden numbness or weakness in the face, arm or leg (especially on one side of the body)
  • Sudden confusion and/or trouble speaking/understanding
  • Sudden trouble walking, dizziness and/or loss of balance/coordination
  • Sudden severe headache
  • Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes

The key to stroke treatment: act F.A.S.T

A person having a stroke needs medical help F.A.S.T. Remember this simple acronym to check for common signs of stroke and take action:

F = Facial weakness

Can the person smile? Does the mouth or eye droop?

A = Arm weakness

Can the person raise both arms? Does one arm drop below the other?

S = Speech problems

Can the person speak clearly?

T = Time

It is time to call for help. If any of these symptoms are present, dial 911 for prompt transportation to the closest ER.

Telemedicine at TriStar Health facilities

TriStar Health is the region’s largest telemedicine network, providing lifesaving stroke treatment closer to home. Telemedicine gives community hospitals and emergency rooms immediate access to acute stroke care, especially in communities where neurologists are not on call 24/7. Because we are a large family of hospitals, our doctors are experts in coordinating the rapid transfer of patients to the closest comprehensive stroke center.

How does telemedicine work?

Within seconds of a request for a consultation, a physician can position the telemedicine robot at your bedside and connect via the Internet to a TriStar neurologist specializing in stroke care. The robot provides two-way audio and video communication and includes remote diagnostic devices, such as an electronic stethoscope. TriStar neurologists can remotely examine your ability to move and speak and even zoom in to allow a complete full exam.

By getting immediate access to a neurologist, you may be able to receive time-critical medications such as tissue plasminogen activator (tPA), which can save brain function and reduce disability. As a result, emergency physicians can more quickly treat stroke patients in the ER and reduce or eliminate long-term stroke impacts on patients.

Stroke treatment options

Determining the type of stroke the patient is experiencing, usually done through a physical exam, diagnostic imaging and blood work, is necessary to know what treatment is needed.

To treat a blockage, a neurologist may administer emergency medicine, such as tPA, intravenously. Doctors may also perform an endovascular procedure (surgically remove the blockage).

To treat a hemorrhage, a neurologist may use medication, such as blood thinners, to lower your blood pressure. If there is extensive bleeding, a neurosurgeon may need to remove the blood and relieve pressure on the brain. You may also undergo surgery to prevent further rupture.

Preventive stroke surgery

Patients may be eligible for preventive surgery to open a narrowed artery. These procedures promote healthy blood flow to the brain. Neurosurgeons may remove plaque from narrowed arteries, or they may perform an angioplasty to expand the narrowed artery.

For a free physician referral or more information, call TriStar MedLine® at (800) 242-5662.

Stroke rehabilitation

Strokes are associated with several debilitating side effects. Patients may have issues with their muscles, vision and speech.

To help with any short- or long-term effects following a stroke, we offer specialized physical therapy. We customize our therapy programs to deliver the unique neurorehabilitation services stroke patients need during their recovery.

Lower your risk of a stroke

You can minimize the likelihood of a stroke through healthy lifestyle changes. Preventable risk factors include:

  • Excessive consumption of alcohol
  • High blood pressure
  • Physical inactivity
  • Poor diet
  • Smoking