Open Accessibility Menu

The Stroke Program in Kern County

Act Quickly to Save a Life

A stroke, also called a brain attack, is a serious medical emergency and can cause permanent brain damage without prompt treatment. Strokes are the result of the disruption of oxygenated blood to the brain. Because the brain needs a constant supply of oxygen and nutrients, even a brief interruption can have catastrophic results. Brain damage from a stroke can result in a profound loss of physical functioning, impaired cognitive skills, or both. The extent of the sustained damage depends on which part of the brain was injured. There is only a small window where diagnosis and prompt treatment can prevent lifelong complications.

At Kern Medical, we understand this urgency. By employing the most advanced diagnostic and treatment technology, Kern Medical Stroke Care provides our patients with seamless care from their first point of contact at the hospital (usually the Emergency Department).

Stroke Symptoms

Unfortunately, strokes can go unnoticed, because many people are not able to recognize one when it occurs because they don’t know the symptoms, which are not usually painful. Because every second counts when a stroke occurs, it’s important to know your risk factors and ensure you have a plan in place.

Learning the signs of a stroke can potentially save the life of someone you care about by remembering the acronym “BEFAST.”

"BEFAST" stands for:

  • Balance: Stroke victims may feel sudden dizziness and loss of balance or coordination. Is the person leaning to one side or staggering as they walk?
  • Eyes: Sudden trouble seeing out of one or both eyes. If the double vision doesn't go away when they blink their eyes, this could be a sign of stroke.
  • Face: The face may be numb or appear droopy from a stroke. Ask them to smile, and if the smile is lopsided, this could indicate a stroke.
  • Arm: Often, stroke victims experience sudden numbness of one arm. Ask them to raise both arms and check if one drifts downwards.
  • Speech: Is the person having trouble speaking? Are their words slurred? This is a warning sign of a stroke. Often, they cannot form coherent sentences or repeat very simple sentences, like “the sky is blue.”
  • Time: Call 9-1-1 immediately if you see these warning signs. Do NOT drive yourself or someone else to the hospital, as emergency medical services in the ambulance on the way to the hospital can provide lifesaving care and ensure the patient does not have to wait to be seen by a doctor.

Treatment for a Stroke

Emergency stroke treatment is extremely important, because there is no known medical treatment that can repair the brain once the brain cells die from lack of oxygen. Our trained medical team at Kern Medical will act quickly to administer powerful medications or perform surgery to reduce or reverse the blockage of blood flow before permanent damage sets in.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a stroke?

A stroke, also called a brain attack, occurs when blood flow to the brain is disrupted. Disruption in blood flow occurs when either a blood clot blocks one of the vital blood vessels in the brain (Ischemic Stroke), or when a blood vessel in the brain bursts, spilling blood into surrounding tissues (Hemorrhagic Stroke).

The brain needs a constant supply of oxygen and nutrients in order to function. Even a brief interruption in blood supply can cause problems. Brain cells begin to die after just a few minutes without blood or oxygen. The area of dead cells in tissues is called an infarct. Due to both the physical and chemical changes that occur in the brain with a stroke, damage can continue to occur for several days. This is called a stroke-in-evolution.

A loss of brain function occurs with brain cell death. This may include impaired ability with movement, speech, thinking and memory, bowel and bladder, eating, emotional control, and other vital body functions. Recovery from a stroke and the specific ability affected depends on the size and location of the stroke. A small stroke may result in problems such as weakness in an arm or leg. Larger strokes may cause paralysis (inability to move part of the body), loss of speech, or even death.

What are the different types of stroke?

Strokes can be classified into two main categories: 87% are Ischemic Strokes (strokes caused by blockage of an artery) and 13% are Hemorrhagic Strokes (strokes caused by bleeding).

AnIschemic Stroke happens when blood is suddenly blocked and cannot flow to your brain. The blockage is usually caused by a blood clot that gets stuck in a narrow blood vessel. When oxygen cannot get to an are of the brain, tissue in that area mayu be damaged. Damage to an area of the brain causes loss of body functions controlled by that area.

A Hemorrhagic Stroke happens when a blood vessel in your brain bursts. This may happen if the blood vessel wall is weak, or if a blood clot damages the blood vessel. Blood then flows out of the vessel and damages brain tissue.

What happens in the hospital?

Treatment for stroke begins in a hospital with “acute care.” The first step includes helping the patient survive, preventing another stroke, and taking care of any other medical problems. The stroke team will provide emergency care such as stabilizing blood pressure and heart rate and attending to any breathing or other complications.

After the most immediate medical needs have been met, doctors will try to find out what kind of stroke occurred, what caused the stroke, and which area of the brain has been affected.

Care Agreement - You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health conditions and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your caregivers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment.

Informed Consent - A legal document that explains the tests, treatments, or procedures that you may need. Informed consent means you understand what will be done and can make decisions about what you want. You give your permission when you sign the consent form. You can have someone sign this form for you if you are not able to sign it. You have the right to understand your medical care in words you know. Before you sign the consent form, understand the risks and benefits of what will be done. M ake sure all your questions are answered.

Rehabilitation Services

According to your present functional needs and as ordered by your physician, rehabilitation services may be involved with assisting you in the areas of mobility, toileting, cognitive or swallowing needs. Kern Medical’s interdisciplinary team of physical, occupational and speech therapists will be available to begin a process (based on your prior level of function) of assessments and treatments that are conducive to your needs. Based on this interdisciplinary approach during your stay in the hospital, further rehabilitative care will be assessed and discussed with your case manager and you. Your improvement depends on the extent of your injury and your response to rehabilitation.