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Stroke Care

What you know about stroke
can protect your health and save your life.

Each year, approximately 800,000 Americans suffer a stroke. A stroke, or brain attack, happens when a blood vessel supplying the brain is either blocked or bursts open. It’s an emergency situation so acting fast is critical — immediately call 911 if you think you or a loved one is having a stroke or symptoms of a stroke. The brain needs a constant supply of oxygen and nutrients to function well, so if the blood supply is altered for even a short time, permanent injury can occur.

There are two kinds of stroke: ischemic and hemorrhagic.

Ischemic stroke

This is the most common type of stroke and occurs when a blood vessel in the brain is blocked from either a blood clot or a buildup of fatty deposits and cholesterol. This buildup is called plaque. Chronic conditions, such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes and atrial fibrillation, are the main risk factors for this type of stroke.

Hemorrhagic stroke

This occurs when a blood vessel in or around your brain bursts, spilling blood into nearby tissues. With this type of stroke, pressure builds up in the nearby brain tissue, which causes damage and irritation. This is a less common type of stroke, as only about 13 in 100 strokes are this type, but is usually more severe than ischemic stroke. The most common causes for this type of stroke are high blood pressure, aneurysms and blood thinners.

When every second counts, know FAST — and act fast — to protect your brain.

Symptoms of a stroke typically appear as face drooping, arm weakness and slurred speech, among other symptoms. Timing is critical: There is a small window of time to treat strokes.

Know the signs:

  • F - Face drooping
  • A - Arm weakness
  • S - Speech difficulty
  • T - Time to call 911

Top risk factors for stroke that can be controlled may include:

  • High blood pressure
  • Heart disease or abnormal heart rhythm
  • Diabetes
  • Smoking
  • Lack of exercise
  • Obesity

Top risk factors for stroke that can’t be controlled:

  • Old age
  • Gender
  • Heredity or genetics
  • History of prior stroke
  • Race
  • Climate

Find expert stroke care and treatment at UW Medicine

UW Medicine’s Stroke Centers of excellence at Harborview Medical Center (Comprehensive Stroke Center), Valley Medical Center (Thrombectomy Capable Stroke Center) and UW Medical Center - Northwest (Primary Stroke Center) are certified by The Joint Commission. They bring expertise in stroke care close to home, where it matters most.

At our stroke centers, we care for patients who have suffered a stroke or transient ischemic attack (TIA) or who are at risk for stroke or TIA. We focus on emergency care for acute stroke, including thrombectomy procedures, which can improve recovery from an ischemic stroke, especially if performed as soon as possible after the stroke happens. This is a procedure to remove a blood clot from a blood vessel to help blood to flow normally again. Our approach to stroke prevention includes identifying and controlling stroke risk factors and following up with treatment options. We also offer a comprehensive rehabilitation program.


Treatment is most effective when started right away. Our emergency treatments and procedures after a stroke may include:

  • Clot-busting medicines (thrombolytics or fibrinolytics)
  • Medicines and therapy to reduce or control brain swelling
  • Neuroprotective medicines
  • Life-support measures
  • Craniotomy

UW Medicine Stroke Club — A Virtual Stroke Support Group

This monthly support group is for stroke survivors, their family members and caregivers. It is designed to lay the foundation for recovery and transition into life after a stroke. Learn from UW Medicine stroke care team members about risk factors, social resources and life after discharge. 

This is a recurring meeting every second Tuesday of the month:

2021 Dates & Times for Stroke Club

2nd Tuesday of every month

May 11: 6 p.m.
June 8: noon
July 13: 6 p.m.
Aug.10: noon
Sep. 14: 6 p.m.
Oct. 12: noon
Nov. 9: 6 p.m.
Dec. 14: noon

Join the Zoom meeting instructionsVirtual Stroke Club w Zoom instructions.pdf - Google Drive

Meeting ID: 96968133718

Questions? Call 206.744.3975 or email


Remember, if you or a loved one is experiencing any signs of a stroke, call 911.