Strokes are a medical emergency and urgent treatment is essential. The sooner a person receives treatment for a stroke, the less damage is likely to happen and the better their recovery.
Scunthorpe hospital has a hyper acute stroke unit, sometimes referred to as HASU. The unit is specially designed to ensure every patient we see receives high standards of treatment and care as quickly as possible. Patients from HASU are admitted to one of our stroke wards – either at Scunthorpe or Grimsby hospital. We also provide rehabilitations services from all three of our hospitals.
We also offer a 24/7 thrombolysis service at Scunthorpe.
What happens if you have a stroke?
If you think you or someone else has stroke symptoms call 999.
Ambulance paramedics are trained in stroke and will take you to the best hospital for specialist treatment. When you first arrive you will need to have tests to confirm that you have had a stroke and make sure you receive the right emergency treatment. The quicker your stroke is diagnosed and treated, the better your recovery will be.
Brain scans and tests
Doctors carry out tests to confirm the stroke. They also carry out tests and checks for health problems that could cause a stroke, such as high blood pressure. They give treatment for these conditions to reduce the chances of having another stroke.
You should have a brain scan quickly after symptoms start, if possible; within an hour of arriving at hospital. The scan can show whether the stroke is due to a clot or a bleed. There are two main types of scan used:
- A computed tomography or CT scan
- A magnetic resonance imaging or MRI scan
The results of your brain scan will help your doctors to identify what may have caused your stroke and ensure you get the right emergency treatment.
A stroke is caused by the disruption of blood supply to the brain. Without the appropriate nutrients and oxygen, brain cells are damaged and cannot function, which can affect physical and mental processes like movement and communication.
A stroke is a medical emergency and the sooner doctors are able to diagnose the condition and treat the patient, the better the recovery potential. Recognise the symptoms and Act fast when these are present:
F – Face: ask the person to smile. Is there a drooping of the mouth at one side?
A – Arm: ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm drift downwards?
S – Speech: can the person speak clearly and understand what is said to them?
T – Time: call 999 if they show any of the above symptoms.
Symptoms are sudden and may also include loss of vision, loss of balance and coordination, numbness or only mild weakness.
Further Information about symptoms, causes, diagnosis and treatment is available on the NHS website.
TIA – transient ischaemic attack (mini stroke)
If the symptoms resolve within minutes, you may have had a TIA, transient ischaemic attack (a mini stroke). A TIA is a warning sign, which should not be ignored. Seek urgent medical attention for assessment and treatment by contacting your GP or local emergency department immediately.
High-risk TIA patients must be assessed by a specialist within 24 hours of onset of symptoms. Low-risk TIA patients must be assessed by a specialist within seven days of the onset of symptoms. Your GP will have an urgent referral telephone or fax number which will ensure you are seen by a stroke specialist within these times.
A rapid access TIA clinic is run at Scunthorpe and Grimsby hospitals five days a week for those who have suffered TIA or minor stroke. Same-day CT scan and carotid duplex is offered as the investigation of choice for those patients suitable who are seen in the TIA clinics.
There are certain risk factors that can increase your risk of having a stroke:
- High blood pressure
- Irregular heart beat
- Lack of exercise
The quicker someone who has had a stroke is diagnosed and treated the better chance they have of recovering. A quick assessment is vital to ensuring the correct emergency treatment can be given. Initial tests will attempt to determine:
- What type of stroke a person has had
- Which part of the brain has been affected?
- The condition of the heart and lungs
- Any problems with swallowing.
People who have suffered a stroke will need a brain scan (either a CT or MRI scan), blood tests, blood pressure checks and ECG (electrocardiagram) to see what caused the stroke, the damage that has been done and what medical treatment can be provided.
Other tests include a carotid doppler (to measure the speed of blood flow in the carotid arteries in the neck), an echocardiogram (to look at how the heart is working), a chest x-ray to look at the condition of the heart and lungs and swallow screening to assess if the patient is suffering from swallowing difficulties.
Medication may be given to help prevent the stroke getting worse, to control blood pressure and to treat any underlying problems.
The most common type of stroke, ischaemic stroke, can be treated with a ‘clot busting’ drug which dissolves the clots blocking the blood flow to the brain. This is called thrombolysis treatment. The window of opportunity for thrombolysis is within four-and-a-half hours of the start of symptoms.
Please note this treatment is not suitable for all patients. We are recognised as a stroke thrombolysis centre and offer a 24/7 service at Scunthorpe General Hospital. Some patients may be referred to the vascular team at Hull Royal Infirmary for surgery if required.
Rehabilitation starts early, once a patient is medically stable. Getting patients to move early has been shown to lead to better long-term outcomes. We work towards getting patients home as early as possible and continue to support their rehabilitation in the home. This has been shown to produce the best outcomes for rehabilitation.
Following your discharge from hospital we will reassess you either in an outpatient clinic or at home. For additional support you will be offered the services of our community team of therapists and family support workers.
We see around 700 people with a diagnosed acute stroke each year from the North Lincolnshire, North East Lincolnshire and East Riding areas.
They hyperacute stroke unit at Scunthorpe General Hospital is a four-bed unit providing intensive nursing, medical and therapy care for the first 72 hours following the onset of stroke. Patients have access to immediate CT scanning, are on cardiac monitors and have frequent blood pressure monitoring and other medical investigations.
We also have acute stroke units at Scunthorpe and Grimsby hospitals which provide further investigations into the cause of the stroke and a treatment plan for recovery, and to lower the risk of a further stroke.
Rehabilitation and follow-up care after discharge is provided at Scunthorpe, Grimsby and Goole hospitals.
Nurses and healthcare assistants will be your main carers in hospital. An individual or a special team will provide day-to-day care, provide your medication and regular health check ups and aid movement and feeding.
Therapists and psychologists
A team of physiotherapists, occupational therapists and speech and language therapists work across all three sites for inpatient care and there are community teams to help early supported discharges, ongoing therapy input and follow up. A dedicated team of clinical psychologists for stroke patients are available five days a week at Scunthorpe and Grimsby.
Stroke unit – Diana, Princess of Wales Hospital
Stroke unit – Scunthorpe General Hospital
Ward 3 – Goole and District Hospital
The Stroke Association
Support for patients, family members and friends.