stroke care

Getting Help for Stroke

Award-winning stroke care from Adventist Health Simi Valley

Stroke is treatable — but it is important to begin receiving care as soon as possible. Every minute that passes after a stroke begins, the brain loses 1.9 million neurons (the cells that make up the brain). Once brain cells are dead, they are dead forever.

If you or someone near you seems to have signs of stroke, call 911 immediately.

It may be tempting to drive the person to the hospital in your car, but there are some important reasons to call 911 instead:

  • Because of the special training of its drivers, as well as its lights and sirens, an ambulance can almost always get to the patient and then on to the hospital faster than anyone can accomplish safely in a personal vehicle.
  • Highly trained emergency medical technicians (EMTs) on the ambulance can begin assessing the patient immediately upon their arrival. As a result, care can actually begin on the trip to the hospital.
  • EMTs provide advanced warning to the hospital, so the stroke team can be assembled and ready to start treatment the moment the patient arrives at the hospital.

Under no circumstances should you ever attempt to drive yourself to the hospital if you think you’re experiencing stroke. You are not only a danger to yourself but to others around you who are driving or walking. Always call 911 for help.

When minutes count, we’re here for you

If a patient arrives at Adventist Health Simi Valley by ambulance, our stroke response team will be ready to begin care immediately. Often, that means transporting the patient directly to our CT scanner.

If someone drives a patient to the hospital, our triage nurse in the emergency room waiting area evaluates the patient’s condition, then calls to assemble the stroke team if a stroke is suspected.

Adventist Health Simi Valley’s stroke response team includes a stroke neurologist (a physician specialist), an ER physician, an ER nurse, the hospital’s stroke coordinator, the house supervisor, a radiology technologist and a lab technician.

Team members immediately begin performing their tasks to learn more about the patient’s stroke then begin the proper treatment. These tasks may include:

  • ​Conducting a specialized stroke assessment process developed by the National Institutes of Health
  • Drawing blood for lab tests
  • Taking the patient for a CT scan
  • Performing a chest X-ray
  • Conducting an ECG (electrocardiogram — a test that records the electrical activity of the heart)

In addition to alerting our stroke response team, a “code stroke” at Adventist Health Simi Valley puts other important protocols into action. For instance, stroke patients get priority for CT scans before other patients who do not have a life-threatening condition. The hospital’s radiologists are put on notice to review the scans before any other work they have on their desk.

Clot-busting treatment

If a stroke is caused by a blood clot in the brain, the neurologist in Adventist Health Simi Valley’s ER may recommend a treatment option called tPA, which stands for tissue plasminogen activator. This is also known as a “clot-buster,” since tPA helps to break up clots and restore blood flow to the area of the brain affected by the stroke.

Patients who are treated with tPA are admitted to Adventist Health Simi Valley’s intensive care unit, usually for 24 hours. After that, they normally spend two to three days in a regular patient care unit at the hospital before being discharged home.

All stroke and TIA* patients, whether they have been treated with tPA or not, receive a special packet filled with information and education about strokes, life after stroke, preventing future strokes, support groups, medication information and much more.

*TIA or transient ischemic attack occurs when a blood clot blocks a small vessel in the brain but dissolves before creating an actual stroke. TIAs are often considered warnings for a more destructive stroke to come.