May is American Stroke Month. Strokes affect nearly 800,000 people each year, and are one of the leading causes of death in the U.S. A stroke occurs when blood cannot get to an area of the brain, often because of a clot or tear in a blood vessel in the brain. Stroke can cause long-term brain damage or even death. It is critical to seek care at a hospital as soon as possible after stroke symptoms begin.

CCH’ John H. Stroger, Jr., Hospital cares for more than 400 stroke patients each year. Unfortunately, more than 85% of patients do not seek care until more than six hours after their stroke begins, making typical stroke treatments far less effective.

“Recognizing the symptoms of a stroke is very important, as time is of the essence in stroke treatment,” said Dr. Michael Kelly, Chair of CCH’ Division of Neurology. “The faster someone can get can get to a hospital after a stroke the better our ability is to reduce potential brain damage. I encourage everyone who thinks they possibly may be having a stroke, no matter how minor their symptoms, to come to the hospital immediately.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the symptoms of a stroke can include:

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

High blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes and smoking can all increase a person’s risk for a stroke. Nearly 80% of strokes could be avoided with healthy lifestyle decisions.

Stroger Hospital has stroke specialists available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and is recognized as a Primary Stroke Center by The Joint Commission and The American Heart Association/American Stroke Association for the hospital’s long-term success in improving outcomes for stroke patients.

CCH is hosting stroke awareness tables in Stroger Hospital on May 24 and Fantus Health Center on May 26. To learn more about preventing a stroke, you can also visit