Stroke Symptoms and FAQs

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Stroke recovery starts as soon as blood flow is restored to your brain. The specialists at Norton Neuroscience Institute will work to determine the cause of the stroke and work with you on a customized plan toward preventing another stroke.

Norton Neuroscience Institute is dedicated to preventing a stroke, treating a stroke and reducing your chance of another stroke.

What Causes a Stroke?

Many common conditions contribute to your stroke risk. Addressing the underlying cause of a stroke is most successful when a multidisciplinary approach is taken that collects the viewpoints from physicians with deep knowledge in their own specialty.


Norton Healthcare operates the area’s largest stroke care system and is ready 24/7 to treat patients. If you are having symptoms of a stroke — or you are with someone who is — call 911 immediately!

Learn the BE FAST Symptoms

The board-certified and fellowship-trained Norton Neuroscience Institute stroke neurologists work closely with neurosurgeons, cardiologists, electrophysiologists, vascular surgeons, hematologists and others to determine and treat the cause of your stroke. A care plan is developed by this team to treat or manage conditions that can lead to a repeat stroke.

Common causes of stroke include:

  • High blood pressure. Also called hypertension, this is the biggest cause of stroke. High blood pressure damages blood vessels, making them more likely to develop clots or rupture.
  • Tobacco, especially smoking. Smoking increases your risk of having a stroke and dying from a stroke. Cigarettes can decrease the levels of “good” low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol. Carbon monoxide from tobacco smoke decreases the amount oxygen in your blood, and nicotine makes your heart beat faster. The chemicals in tobacco smoke also can increase your chance of blood clots by making platelets more likely to stick together.
  • Cardiovascular disease. Elevated high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol levels cause plaque to build up in your blood vessels. This can have consequences for your heart health, but the plaque also can break loose and lodge in your brain or an artery supplying blood to the brain, causing a stroke.
  • Uncontrolled glucose levels can cause blood vessels to change anywhere in the body. If it happens in the brain, stroke can be a result. Patients with diabetes are more likely to die from stroke.

An ischemic stroke (blood clot blocking blood flow in the brain) often can be traced to cardiovascular conditions such as atrial fibrillation, atherosclerosis and carotid artery disease.

Treating these underlying conditions can help prevent another stroke. Our stroke neurologists work with the specialists at Norton Heart & Vascular Institute to reduce your stroke risk.

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Patients with atrial fibrillation (A-fib), an irregular heart rhythm, that isn’t caused by a heart valve condition, are at high risk for stroke. In A-fib, the chambers at top of the heart — the atria —  don’t pump out all the blood, making blot clots more likely.

More than 90% of stroke-causing clots that originate in the heart come from the left atrial appendage. This pouch of tissue on the heart serves no known purpose. For many patients, closing the appendage with a minimally invasive left atrial appendage closure procedure can reduce their stroke risk and allow them to stop taking blood thinners.

Carotid artery disease — a buildup of plaque in the arteries that deliver blood to your brain — causes an estimated 20% of strokes. Many patients can take advantage of a minimally invasive transcarotid artery revascularization (TCAR) procedure. TCAR currently is used on patients who may have difficulty with traditional open surgery to remove the plaque.

What Happens After a Stroke?

A stroke typically happens suddenly with no gradual progression that allows for preparation, grieving and coping.

Many patients will recover quickly and fully from a stroke. Some may have post-stroke conditions such as difficulty swallowing, weakness and paralysis, incontinence, difficulty speaking or understanding, emotional challenges, or poor attention span.

If a stroke was on the right side of the brain, there may be left-side weakness, impulsiveness, overconfidence in abilities and vision issues to deal with. A stroke on the left side of the brain can be associated with weakness on the right side of the body, along with difficulty speaking, reading, writing or understanding language, and a cautious behavioral style.

Norton Neuroscience Institute Resource Centers offers a number of services to patients recovering from strokes.

With the changes and stress that come with caring for a loved one who has survived a stroke, caregivers and family members also may be at risk for depression, anxiety and feeling overwhelmed. Our stroke support groups are for survivors and their family members, friends and caregivers.

Rehabilitation services at Norton Healthcare offer specialized outpatient physical, occupational and speech therapy at locations downtown, on the Norton Brownsboro Hospital campus and on the Norton Healthcare – St. Matthews campus.

Norton Neuroscience Institute Cressman Neurological Rehabilitation on the Norton Brownsboro Hospital campus offers access to some of the most advanced technology and specialized services in one location to help with gait, balance, strength, flexibility, speech, fine motor skills, swallowing, driving, cognition, vision and more.

Symptoms of Stroke — BE FAST*

  • Balance — loss of balance, coordination or dizziness
  • Eyes — having trouble seeing or change in vision in one or both eyes
  • Face — uneven smile or face looks uneven, droopy or is numb
  • Arms — one arm drops when raising both arms; numbness or weakness in one arm
  • Speech — trouble speaking; slurred or difficult speech
  • Time — Note the time when symptoms start: Time lost equals brain lost.

*Adapted from Intermountain Healthcare. BE FAST was developed by Intermountain Healthcare, as an adaptation of the FAST model implemented by the American Stroke Association. Reproduced with permission from Intermountain Healthcare. Copyright 2011, Intermountain Healthcare.

Care That’s Focused on You

It’s part of Norton Neuroscience Institute’s goal to care for the whole person, not just the condition.

  • Dedicated patient navigators can help schedule follow-up appointments, coordinate prescription assistance, create customized diet plans and provide guidance on disability benefits, housing, financial and employment concerns, and more.
  • Patients can access support groups, exercise classes and other educational events to connect with others and learn how to make the most of life while managing a neurologic condition.
  • Access an on-demand video library of educational content across a variety of condition-related topics is available.
  • We want to help prevent illness. Get help quitting smoking, and learn the signs of stroke.

A Louisville Leader in Neurological Care

More patients from Louisville and Southern Indiana seek their neurology and neurosurgery care from Norton Neuroscience Institute’s nationally recognized specialists than any other providers in the area.

Your Norton Neuroscience Institute medical provider has the expertise, experience, diagnostic tools and sophisticated treatments to provide care tailored to your needs.

  • More than 130 medical, surgical and research specialists are dedicated to providing innovative care to those with brain, spine and nervous system conditions.
  • Advanced, minimally invasive neurosurgery equipment can speed your recovery and minimize pain.
  • Multidisciplinary clinics provide easy access to care in one convenient appointment for your neurologic condition, with specialists in oncology, cardiology, orthopedics and behavioral health.
  • Norton Healthcare’s four adult-service hospitals in Louisville are certified by DNV, recognizing excellence and expertise in stroke care.
    • Norton Brownsboro Hospital is recognized as a Comprehensive Stroke Center.
    • Norton Audubon Hospital and Norton Hospital are Primary Stroke Centers.
    • Norton Women’s & Children’s Hospital is an Acute Stroke Ready Hospital.
  • Norton Neuroscience Institute is at the forefront of neuroscientific research. As investigators on numerous trials, our physicians contribute to groundbreaking studies and publications in peer-reviewed journals. Also, patients may be eligible to take part in these experimental treatments.
    Learn more about current neuroscience clinical trials and studies.
  • The American Heart Association Get With the Guidelines stroke care program has recognized all four of Norton Healthcare’s adult service-hospitals in Louisville for exceeding national averages in getting patients in the door and administering lifesaving treatment to restore blood flow to the brain.
  • Norton Neuroscience Institute’s multiple sclerosis (MS) program has been designated a Center for Comprehensive MS Care by the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.
  • The National Association of Epilepsy Centers has recognized Norton Neuroscience Institute Comprehensive Epilepsy Center as a level 4 center, providing the highest level of medical and surgical evaluation and treatment for patients with complex epilepsy.
  • Norton Hospital’s neurosurgical intensive care unit is recognized with a silver-level Beacon Award for Excellence by the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses.
  • Norton Neuroscience Institute Resource Center navigators help educate patients and their families about new diagnoses, available treatments and ways to manage their disease.
  • Communicate with your provider, manage appointments, refill prescriptions, get an alert if an earlier appointment becomes available, and more anytime from a computer or mobile device with a free Norton MyChart account.

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