About Stroke

Stroke is the third leading cause of death in America and a leading cause of disabilities in adults. Yet up to 80% of strokes can be prevented, if you know how to prevent them. You can also help to lessen the disability caused by a stroke if you take quick action!

A stroke is also called a CVA (cerebral vascular accident) or "brain attack." A stroke happens when a blood clot blocks an artery, or a blood vessel breaks. Either of these things interrupts blood flow to the brain, and brain cells begin to die. When brain cells die during a stroke, brain damage occurs because there is no blood and no oxygen to that area of the brain. Abilities controlled by that area of the brain are lost.

Exactly how a person may be affected by a stroke depends on where the stroke occurs in the brain and how much of the brain is damaged. One person may be completely paralyzed on one side of the body, and another person may not be able to swallow or speak. Still another person may have minor problems, such as a slight weakness in an arm or leg. Some people recover completely from the effects of a stroke, but two thirds of people who have had strokes have some sort of lasting effect. If a person has a TIA (transient ischemic attack), sometimes called a "mini stroke", he or she is likely to recover very quickly with no lasting effects.

Some of the risk factors for stroke are not preventable. These include age, gender, race, family history, previous stroke or TIA, or abnormalities of the heart or blood vessels. But there are other risk factors that we can control, by leading a healthy lifestyle. These preventable risk factors include high blood pressure, atrial fibrillation, high cholesterol, diabetes, atherosclerosis, tobacco use and smoking, alcohol use, physical inactivity, and obesity. Diet, exercise, and staying away from drinking and smoking can go a long way in prevention!

There are some obvious signs that you or someone you know may be having a stroke. These signs may appear suddenly, without warning. They include:

  • Severe headache, sometimes described as the worst in your life
  • Numbness or weakness on one side of the body, usually in the arm, leg, or face.
  • Trouble speaking or understanding, or sounding confused
  • Difficulty with vision in one or both eyes
  • Dizziness or uncoordinated movement
  • Losing one’s balance

The National Stroke Association uses "Act F.A.S.T." to help us identify and act quickly:

  • F - Face: Ask the person to smile. Look if one side of the face droops.
  • A - Arms: Ask the person to raise both arms. Look if one arm drifts downward.
  • S - Speech: Ask the person to repeat a simple sentence. Listen if it is slurred or wrong.
  • T - Time: Act quickly if these symptoms are present. Note what time the symptoms began, and call 911. "time is brain"

Acting fast may help to significantly lessen the effects of a stroke. There are medical procedures that can be used for certain types of strokes, and within the first three hours after the symptoms have started. Remember, act FAST, because time is brain.

  • Our Winter Haven Hospital Stroke Center is certified by The Joint Commission as a Primary Stroke Center. The American Stroke Association awarded the Winter Haven Hospital Stroke Center its Get with the Guidelines-Stroke Gold Plus Performance Achievement Award.
  • The Joy-Fuller Rehabilitation Center has been on the seventh floor of Winter Haven Hospital for more than 20 years. We provide a continuum of care for our patients, along with our acute care and our outpatient programs
  • We work with our own hospital and all acute hospitals in the County and surrounding areas to service the persons who need us
  • Our programs were first accredited by CARF (Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities) in 1992, and have continued to receive reaccreditation every three years since then. We are due for reaccreditation in October 2010.
    We have specialty accreditations in Stroke and Brain Injury for both inpatient and outpatient.
  • Our Inpatient and Outpatient programs are also state designated for brain injury
  • We are the only accredited inpatient rehabilitation facility in Polk, Highlands, Hardee counties. Some of the Skilled Nursing Facilities (SNFs) call themselves rehabilitation centers, but they are not accredited inpatient rehabilitation facilities, they are licensed as nursing homes
  • Our outcomes compare favorably with our region and nation
  • Our patients receive more hours of treatment than they do in skilled nursing facilities or nursing homes. Our therapists deliver at least three hours five days a week, and are also here on weekends
  • Patients and their families want to come to us because we have a state of the art team who works together to get them back to their community of choice
  • We have credentialed rehabilitation nurses and case managers, and we do full evaluations on patients who may benefit from our services, and educate the patient and family so they can manage the patient’s nursing needs
  • Our Rehab Physicians are on site and see the patient daily, at least five days a week, so with our full service acute care hospital, we can quickly handle changes in medical needs

Most of us don’t really think about rehabilitation until we need it. At Winter Haven Hospital, there are programs to help with recovery after a stroke. The Rehabilitation Services of Winter Haven Hospital are here if you need us. Our team of professionals is ready to help. Give us a call at (863) 292-4380 or (800) 283-1738.

Learn more about stroke at the American Stroke Association.

Understanding Stroke

"It was early evening and we were watching our usual TV program when suddenly the left side of my body went limp and I slumped over in the chair. I tried to call out for help but the words that came out of my mouth were garbled. I remember feeling very confused and fearful. Later that night in the hospital I was told that I had a stroke."

Stroke, better known as "Brain Attack" is the leading cause of disability in the United States. Over 700,000 people suffer a new or recurrent stroke each year. Winter Haven Hospital has made a commitment to the community to reduce the incidents and severity of strokes by educating the community on how to reduce the risks factors of stroke and teaching everyone how important it is to seek emergency treatment as soon as the symptoms begin because "Time is Brain".

Winter Haven Hospital's certified Advanced Primary Stroke Center has received the Gold Plus Award from the American Heart Association / American Stroke Association for continuously meeting the high standards of stroke care established, through research, that stroke and risk of stroke can be reduced by 25%.

Warning signs of stroke:

  • Face, arm or leg suddenly becomes numb or weak on one side of the body
  • Can’t understand or talk clearly
  • Sudden loss of vision in one eye; blurred or double vision
  • Headache unlike any other headache before

What you should do:

  • Do not ignore the warning signs, even if they go away!
  • Check the time the warning signs began and write it down
  • Call 9-1-1 for emergency medical transport

Some stroke patients may be candidates to receive a clot-busting drug called a "thrombolytic." This drug has the capability of drastically reducing the stroke symptoms and, in some cases, completely eliminating them. There are risks involved and not every patient can receive the drug. The clot-busting drug must be given within several hours of the onset of the symptoms.

Stroke is a medical emergency and….every second counts.

For more information about the prevention and treatment of stroke: