USA Regional Stroke Center

Physician referral: 800-388-8721

Information: (251) 471-7671


USA Health University Hospital was the first hospital in Alabama to earn the coveted GWTG Gold Plus Target Stroke Honor Role Elite Plus Performance Quality Achievement Award from the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association, first offered in 2016. This signifies University Hospital consistently meets exceptional performance standards in the delivery of evidence-based care indicators established to improve outcomes and quality of life of stroke patients. This is the highest achievable level of award available, and University Hospital is now the first hospital in Alabama to receive the award for two consecutive years, for 2016 and 2017. The hospital has received the gold level award each year since 2008.



University Hospital’s stroke team includes board-certified neurologists, one of whom is always available to treat patients who arrive at the hospital with stroke symptoms. The clinical team involved in the care of the stroke patient also includes emergency room staff, intensive care staff, medical/surgical staff, physical and occupational therapists, speech-language pathologists, dietitians and social workers.

The stroke team collaborates with emergency medical services, regional emergency rooms and the community to ensure prompt identification of symptoms and implementation of treatment interventions with the goal of reducing long-term impact of stroke.


Stroke Response Team

Early recognition and appropriate treatment of stroke is critical to survival as well as prevention of long-term disability from stroke. The stroke team response starts before the patient reaches the hospital, as University Hospital works closely with local EMS personnel in stroke recognition and treatment. For best patient outcome/results, a patient needs to receive treatment within the first three hours of the onset of symptoms.


Admissions and Referral

For referrals, please call the USA Physicians Referral Line at 800-388-8721 or University Hospital at 251-471-7000.


What is a Stroke?

A stroke occurs when blood flow to an area of the brain is interrupted either from a blockage (Ischemic) or a ruptured or broken vessel (hemorrhagic). When blood doesn’t get to the brain, the brain’s supply of oxygen and nutrients is cut off. This can cause the affected brain cell to become damaged or die. When brain cells become damaged or die, the functions they controlled are impaired or lost.

Every 40 seconds, someone in the United States has a stroke. It is the fifth leading cause of death and one of the leading causes of disability in the United States. More than two-thirds of stroke survivors experience some kind of disability. However, 80 percent of all strokes are preventable, if corrective action is taken to reduce the risk or cause!


Types of Stroke

There are two types of strokes – ischemic and hemorrhagic. Ischemic stroke occurs when blood clots or fatty deposits block blood vessels that supply blood to the brain. This is the most common type of stroke. Hemorrhagic stroke occurs when a blood vessel inside the brain or on the brain’s surface ruptures. This cuts off the blood supply to the brain cells. Pooling blood from the rupture can also damage brain tissue.

Some people experience a transient ischemic attack (TIA), more commonly referred to as "mini-strokes." These mild attacks result from a brief interruption of blood flow to the brain with symptoms lasting less than 24 hours and leaving no permanent tissue damage. There is a 5 percent risk of having a stroke within 48 hours after experiencing a TIA and an additional 10 percent risk within 3 months if steps are not taken to diminish the causable risk.

USA has adopted the "BEFAST" educational tool to identify possible symptoms of stroke. A key element is the description "Sudden."


Symptoms of stroke:

  • Sudden numbness or weakness of the face, arm or leg, especially on one side of the body
  • Sudden confusion, trouble speaking or understanding speech
  • Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes
  • Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination
  • Sudden, severe, acute headache with no known cause

It is important that anyone who experiences one or more symptoms act fast – call 911 and get to a hospital immediately.


Know Your Risk Factors

Stroke Risk factors that cannot be changed include:

  • Age (3/4 of all strokes occur in individuals over age 65.)
  • Race (African-Americans are at a high risk for stroke.)
  • Family history of stroke
  • Gender (Females have an increased risk for stroke and dying from a stroke.)

Stroke Risk factors that can be changed:

  • Uncontrolled or undiagnosed high blood pressure
  • Heart disease
  • Heavy alcohol consumption
  • Obesity/weight
  • Physical inactivity
  • Smoking and tobacco use
  • High cholesterol
  • Drug abuse
  • Head and neck injuries
  • Uncontrolled diabetes

The best way to decrease your risk factors of stroke is to identify the risks you have and eliminate those under your control. Not all risk factors are controllable, but lifestyle changes such as controlling high blood pressure, diabetes, cholesterol, and stopping smoking may significantly decrease your stroke risk factors. It is easier to prevent a stroke than to treat a stroke.


Stroke Treatment Centers

Stroke treatment centers such as University Hospital employ modern therapies that include specially trained physicians and health care providers, special drugs, and brain imaging equipment to improve outcomes for patients experiencing stroke. Utilizing modern therapies often prevents neuron and cell damage by reversing or stopping further effects of stroke before permanent damage has occurred.


Leaving the Hospital After a Stroke

Before the stroke patient is discharged from University Hospital, the Stroke Team is committed to helping make the transition from the hospital to the home a smooth one. Stroke patients and their families experience many challenges after a stroke and our goal is to assist in the journey. University Hospital hosts a stroke support group for the survivor and caregiver.


South Alabama Regional Stroke Support Group

The South Alabama Regional Stroke Support Group meets the third Tuesday of each month at 6 p.m. in the University Hospital Café Conference room, located off the hospital cafeteria on the second floor. The mission is to offer support and assistance to stroke survivors and caregivers. Meetings are free of charge and open to the community. The group consists of stroke survivors, caregivers and people with an interest in preventing a stroke. Each month the topic varies, focusing on stroke prevention or health issues. Please call the Stroke Certification Coordinator at (251) 471-7671 or email for additional information.


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