Stroke Awareness

Winchester Hospital is a designated Primary Stroke Service Hospital by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health. This means that emergency diagnostic and therapeutic services are available 24 hours a day.Patient gets blood pressure check by doctor

What Is a Stroke?

A stroke occurs when a blood vessel carrying oxygen and nutrients to the brain gets blocked or ruptures. Deprived of blood, nerve cells die within minutes. And when nerve cells don't function, the part of the body they control can't function either.

The devastating effects of stroke are often permanent because dead brain cells can't be replaced. In fact, stroke is the third leading cause of death (after heart disease and cancer) and a leading cause of serious, long-term disability in America.

For this reason, it is critical to seek immediate medical help by calling 911 for an ambulance and going to the nearest Emergency Department for these sudden symptoms:

  • Numbness or weakness in the face, arm or leg, especially on one side of the body
  • Confusion or trouble speaking or understanding
  • Trouble seeing out of one or both eyes
  • Trouble walking, dizziness or loss of balance or coordination
  • Severe headache with no known cause

At Winchester Hospital, our Emergency Department staff is trained to recognize signs of stroke and acts quickly when someone with symptoms of a stroke comes through our doors.

Risk Factors

Risk factors for stroke that can't be changed include:

  • Age. While stroke is common among the elderly, it also affects many people under 65.
  • Family history. Your risk for having a stroke is greater if a parent, grandparent or sibling has had a stroke.
  • Race. Along with higher risks of high blood pressure, diabetes and obesity, African Americans also have a higher risk of death from a stroke than Caucasians.
  • Gender. Although stroke is more common in men, more women die of stroke. Pregnancy and use of birth control pills pose special stroke risks for women.
  • Prior stroke or heart attack. A person who has already had a stroke, heart attack or transient ischemic attack (a "warning stroke" that produces stroke-like symptoms but no lasting damage) is many times more at risk for stroke than a person who has not.

Risk factors for stroke that can be changed, treated or controlled include:

  • High blood pressure
  • High cholesterol
  • Cigarette smoking
  • Poor diet
  • Physical inactivity and obesity
  • Diabetes, since many people with diabetes are also overweight and have high blood pressure and high blood cholesterol
  • Carotid or other artery disease, whereby arteries narrowed by fatty deposits may become blocked by a blood clot
  • Atrial fibrillation, a heart rhythm disorder that may allow the blood to pool and form a clot which can then break off and lodge in an artery leading to the brain
  • Sickle cell disease (or sickle cell anemia), a genetic disorder characterized by red blood cells that tend to stick to blood vessel walls and may block arteries to the brain

Where to Find Care

If you think you are at risk for having a stroke and you are looking for a doctor who can help you reduce that risk, call our free Physician Referral Service at 1-866-946-4677 (1-866-WIN-HOSP) or find a doctor here.

If you are experiencing a medical emergency, please immediately call 911.

Rehabilitation Services

Winchester Hospital offers a variety of rehabilitation services – including cardiac and pulmonary rehabilitation as well as physical, occupational and speech therapy – to help you get back to your normal routine.

Pain Management Center

The skilled and caring staff at Winchester Hospital's Pain Management Center helps hundreds of patients each year reduce and cope with chronic pain so that they can lead more active and productive lives.

Integrative Therapies

To complement our excellent medical and surgical services, Winchester Hospital offers integrative therapies, including acupuncture, hypnotherapy, massage therapy, yoga and more.