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North Mississippi Medical Center's Acute Stroke Unit

A Joint Commission-certified Stroke Center of Excellence                                        


Mississippi Health Care Alliance Stroke System-of-Care Plan


Patient and Caregiver Ischemic Stroke Education Booklet


Patient and Caregiver Hemorrhagic Stroke Education Booklet

NMMC's Stroke Survivors Group meets on the third Tuesday of each month at 11:30 a.m. in the NMMC Tupelo Wellness Center Classroom, 1030 South Madison St. in Tupelo. Click here for a printable flyer.



NMMC’s Stroke Unit Earns Gold Performance Award

North Mississippi Medical Center received the Get with the Guidelines®—Stroke Gold Quality Achievement Award for implementing specific quality improvement measures outlined by the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association. Get with the Guidelines is the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association’s hospital-based quality improvement program that provides hospitals with the latest research-based guidelines. NMMC earned the award by meeting specific quality achievement measures for the rapid diagnosis and treatment of stroke patients at a set level for a designated period. These measures include proper use of medications and aggressive risk-reduction therapies aimed at reducing death and disability and improving the lives of stroke patients. Developed with the goal of saving lives and hastening recovery, Get with the Guidelines has touched the lives of more than 4 million patients since 2001.

The Acute Stroke Unit is a 16-bed unit located on 5 Central. The unit provides specialized care to patients who have suffered a stroke or transient ischemic attack (sometimes referred to as "mini-stroke"). The unit functions under the supervision of a nurse manager and utilizes a team approach to patient care. The RN is the primary care provider and works closely with other team members to provide quality patient care. Hourly rounds are made on each patient from 6 a.m. until 10 p.m. and then every two hours from 10 p.m. until 6 a.m.

Family members may stay with a patient on the Acute Stroke Unit. However, to keep the noise level at a minimum, the number of visitors in the room should be limited to two at a time and no children under age 14 are allowed on the unit. To check on a family member, call the nurses' station at (662) 377-6509 or (662) 377-6510, or call the patient's room before 9 p.m.

Stroke is the nation's fifth leading cause of death. On average, one American dies from stroke every 4 minutes. Every 45 seconds, someone in America has a stroke. About 795,000 Americans will have a stroke this year.

A stroke occurs when a blood vessel that carries oxygen and nutrients to the brain is either blocked or bursts. When that happens, part of the brain cannot get the blood and oxygen it needs, so it starts to die.

Knowing the warning signs and acting quickly can mean the difference between living with a permanent disability or complete recovery. The best way to prevent a stroke is to control your risk factors by increasing physical activity, preventing obesity, maintaining a healthy blood pressure and eliminating tobacco smoke exposure.

You can reduce your risk of stroke. Begin by becoming aware of your risk factors—the personal characteristics and habits that may increase your chances of having a stroke. Some risk factors you cannot change or control, but some you can. By making a few changes in your daily habits or taking medication as prescribed, you can reduce your risk of stroke. In this booklet, you will learn more about the risk factors for stroke.

What Are Your Risk Factors?

Several factors increase your risk of stroke. The more risk factors you have, the greater your chance of having a stroke. Some you cannot control, such as age, family health history, race and gender. But you can modify, treat or control many factors to lower your risk of stroke!

What Are the Risk Factors for Stroke You Cannot Change?

  • Increasing Age. Stroke happens to people of all ages, even children, but the older you are, the greater your risk for stroke.
  • Gender. Stroke is more common in men than in women. In most age groups, more men than women will have a stroke in a given year. However, more than half of total stroke deaths occur in women. Overall, more women than men die of stroke. Use of birth control pills and pregnancy pose special stroke risks for women.
  • Heredity and Race. Your risk of stroke is greater if a parent, grandparent, sister or brother has had a stroke. African-Americans have a much higher risk of death from a stroke than Caucasians do. In part, this is because African-Americans have higher risk of diabetes, high blood pressure and obesity.
  • Prior Stroke or Heart Attack. The risk of stroke for someone who has already had one is many times that of a person who has not. If you have had a heart attack, you are also at higher risk of having a stroke.

What Risk Factors Can You Control or Treat with a Doctor's Help?

In some cases, people with health conditions described here can control them with changes in diet and exercise while others may need medication. Find out whether you have any of these conditions and follow your health care provider's advice.

  • High Blood Pressure. High blood pressure, or hypertension, is the most important risk factor for stroke. It's called the "silent killer," because it usually has no symptoms. High blood pressure (in an adult) is defined as a systolic pressure (top number) of 140 mm Hg or greater and/or a diastolic pressure (bottom number) of 90 mm Hg or greater that stays high over time. A blood pressure of less than 120 over 80 is considered normal in adults.
  • Diabetes. Diabetes mellitus is controllable, but having it greatly increases the risk of stroke. People with diabetes often also have high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol and are overweight, increasing their risk even more. Diabetes mellitus is defined as a fasting plasma glucose (blood sugar) of 126 mg/dL or more measured on two occasions.
  • Carotid or Other Artery Disease. The carotid arteries in your neck supply blood to your brain. A carotid artery narrowed by fatty deposits from artherosclerosis may become blocked by a blood clot. Peripheral artery disease is the narrowing of blood vessels carrying blood to leg and arm muscles. People with peripheral artery disease have a higher risk of carotid artery disease, which raises their risk of stroke.
  • Atrial Fibrillation or Other Heart Disease. Atrial Fibrillation (AF) is an important, treatable stroke risk factor. In AF, the heart's upper chambers quiver instead of beating effectively. This lets the blood pool and clot. If a clot breaks off, enters the bloodstream and lodges in an artery supplying blood to a part of the brain, a stroke results. People with coronary disease or heart failure have more than twice the risk of stroke as those with hearts that work normally. Dilated cardiomyopathy (an enlarged heart), heart valve disease and some types of congenital heart defects also raise the risk of stroke.
  • Transient Ischemic Attacks (TIAs). TIAs, sometimes called "mini-strokes," produce stroke-like symptoms that last less than 24 hours, but more commonly last only a few minutes to two hours. They are strong risk factors and predictors of stroke. Don't ignore TIAs—call 911 to get medical attention right away!
  • High Blood Cholesterol. A high level of total cholesterol in the blood (240 mg/dL or higher) is a major risk factor for heart disease, which raises your risk of stroke. Recent studies show that high levels of LDL "bad" cholesterol (greater than 100 mg/dL) and triglycerides (blood fats) directly increase the risk of stroke in people with prior coronary heart disease, ischemic stroke or transient ischemic attack (TIA). High levels of HDL "good" cholesterol (40 mg/dL or more) lower your risk of heart disease and stroke. People with a low level of HDL cholesterol (less than 40 mg/dL) have a higher risk of heart attack and stroke.
  • Tobacco Use. People who smoke cigarettes or cigars have a much higher risk of having a stroke. Even if you don't smoke, constant exposure to other people's tobacco smoke also increases your risk. Using birth control pills and smoking cigarettes greatly increases stroke risk. When you stop smoking - no matter how long or how much you have smoked - your risk of stroke quickly drops.
  • Physical Inactivity. Physical inactivity increases the risk of heart disease, which raises the risk of stroke. Regular physical activity helps reduce your risk of heart disease, heart attack and stroke. Do what you can to make your life more active for a total of at least 30 minutes on all or most days of the week.
  • Obesity. If you have too much fat, especially in the waist, you are at higher risk for health problems, including high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol, high triglycerides, diabetes, heart disease and stroke. To lose weight, you need to burn more calories than you take in. You can do this by eating healthy foods in reasonable amounts and becoming more active.
  • Excessive Alcohol. An average of more than one alcoholic drink a day for women or more than two drinks a day for men raises blood pressure and can lead to stroke.
  • lllegal Drugs. Intravenous drug abuse carries a high risk of stroke from cerebral embolism, a clot or other particle that lodges in the brain. Cocaine use has been linked to strokes and heart attacks; some strokes have been fatal even in first-time cocaine users.

Know the Warning Signs of Stroke

If you see someone experiencing any of the following stroke symptoms, call 911. Seeking treatment immediately can prevent disability

  • Trouble speaking
  • Trouble seeing
  • Trouble walking
  • Weakness or numbness on one side
  • Sudden severe headache with no known cause

What Should You Do if a Stroke Strikes?

If you experience any of the warning signs of stroke, take action immediately! Here are the most important things to remember:

  • Not all warning signs occur in every stroke. Don't ignore signs of stroke, even if they go away!
  • Check the time. When did the first symptom start? You will be asked this important question later.
  • Call 911 immediately. If you or someone around you has one or more stroke symptoms that last more than a few minutes, don't delay!
  • Advances in stroke prevention and treatment. For example, a blood clot dissolving drug called tissue plasminogen activator (or TPA) is now available and considered a major advancement. If given within three hours of the onset of an ischemic stroke, it can reduce long-term disability or possibly reverse the effects of stroke.

NMMC Rehabilitation Institute

The NMMC Rehabilitation Institute a 30-bed inpatient unit staffed with a team of professionals who provide three to five hours of intensive therapy daily to help patients reach their individual goals. NMMC has earned the Gold Seal of Approval from The Joint Commission for Primary Stroke Centers.


The Joint Commission

The Joint Commission provides a comprehensive accreditation process for evaluation of an organization's compliance with patient safety and quality care standards. If you have concerns regarding your care or safety while in the hospital, you may contact the Joint Commission at 1-800-994-6610 or by e-mailing

American Heart Association 1-800-242-8721

The American Heart Association (AHA) provides the public and health care organizations with credible heart disease and stroke information for effective prevention and treatment.

American Stroke Association 1-888-478-7653

The American Stroke Association (ASA) offers an array of programs and educational materials to help reduce the risk of stroke as well as to help eliminate stroke as a major health problem.


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