A stroke occurs when blood flow to the brain is interrupted, either by blockage (ischemic stroke ) or bleeding into the brain tissue (hemorrhagic stroke ). According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Stroke Association , stroke is a leading cause of serious, long-term disability and the fifth leading cause of death in the United States. Each year, about 800,000 people experience a new or recurrent stroke, and more than seven million people in the United States are living with the effects of a stroke. Houston Methodist is a leader in stroke education and prevention outreach as well as treatment.

Our Approach
At Houston Methodist, we have comprehensive stroke centers at multiple locations to offer coordinated, interdisciplinary, rapid-response care for stroke victims. Our exceptional teams of doctors and highly dedicated nursing staff provide immediate stroke intervention and care — from the onset of symptoms, our doctors use the very latest treatments, with the aim of the best possible recovery for each patient. 

Houston Methodist is a leader in providing the very best in stroke care:

  • Our stroke care specialists include neurologists, neurosurgeons, interventional neuroradiologists, cardiologists and rehabilitation therapists. 
  • We provide expert neuro-critical care 7 days a week, 24 hours a day. 
  • Houston Methodist’s use of clot-busting tPA (tissue plasminogen activator) for ischemic stroke treatment is higher than the national average. 
  • We perform state-of-the-art neurovascular and endovascular procedures for repair of aneurysms and other causes of hemorrhagic stroke. 
  • We have proven protocols for diagnosis and treatment of the underlying causes of stroke. 
  • Houston Methodist is an active participant in multiple clinical research trials to improve and advance stroke treatment. 
  • Our award-winning stroke outreach program educates the community about stroke recognition and prevention . 

Tokashemia Carter suffered from patent foramen ovale (PFO) or a hole in the heart. The condition contributed to a stroke. She participated in a Houston Methodist trial for a PFO implant. "I'm back to living my life," says Tokashemia. Learn more about stroke

Recognizing the Signs of Stroke
Because stroke symptoms can occur suddenly and unexpectedly, it is important to recognize the signs and immediately call 911. An easy way to remember how to
recognize stroke is the FAST test:

  • F — Face Drooping. Is one side of the face drooping or numb? Ask the person to smile. 
  • A — Arm Weakness. Is one arm or leg weak and numb, especially on one side? Ask the person to raise both arms. 
  • S — Speech Difficulty. Is the speech slurred? Can they speak clearly or do they seem confused? Ask them to repeat a simple phrase. 
  • T — Time to call 911 with even one of these signs, and even if the symptom goes away. Get to the hospital immediately. 

Other signs of stroke may include trouble seeing or walking, dizziness or severe headache without a known cause.

Causes and Prevention of Stroke
Most strokes are ischemic , caused by a blood clot blocking a blood vessel in the brain. Hemorrhagic stroke is caused by a blood vessel that has burst. Although there can be a genetic component, most cases of stroke can be prevented by making lifestyle changes and managing existing medical conditions, such as not smoking, staying physically active, maintaining a healthy weight with a balanced diet, controlling blood pressure and blood sugar, and lowering your cholesterol level.

Additional information is available to help you learn more about stroke from our caregivers series and support groups:

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Houston Methodist Neurological Institute is ranked #16 in U.S. News and World Report’s 2015 rankings for national hospitals in neurology and neurosurgery, we have reached this level of excellence by combining practiced skills with continuous learning and the cutting-edge research from the Houston Methodist Research Institute.