The Stroke Center at St. Luke's

The Stroke Care Team

Primary Stroke Center
Gold Seal of Approval

Jessica Heckenberger, MSN, RN
Stroke Center Manager

Stroke Atlas Group

Join The Stroke Atlas Group
Meets every third Tuesday
6:15 pm to 7:30 pm
St. Luke's Neurology Associates
1417 8th Avenue
Bethlehem, PA 18018

St. Luke's University Hospital in Bethlehem, Allentown, and Anderson supports a 24-hour, multidisciplinary emergency response team for the management of acute stroke patients, as well as a team of health care providers dedicated to the ongoing care of stroke victims.

St. Luke's certified Stroke Center is dedicated to specialized care and collaboration between patients and families and the health care team. This multidisciplinary team consists of:

  • Emergency physicians
  • Primary care physicians
  • Neurologists
  • Neurosurgeons
  • Nurses
  • Neuroradiologists
  • Interventional radiologists
  • Rehabilitation specialists
  • Case managers
  • Nutritionists
  • Other highly skilled caregivers

St. Luke's certified Stroke Center is distinguished by:

  • 24-hour emergency response team
  • Dedicated stroke unit
  • Community education program
    • Stroke prevention education programs
    • Education regarding warning signs of stroke
    • Stroke risk assessments
  • Continuing education for health care team members (including monthly neuroscience grand rounds and case studies)
  • Quality and continuous process improvement forum
  • Supported by the American Stroke Association 's public awareness campaign and Get With the Guidelines Stroke

Patient Information

Visit the links below for more information about stroke.

Stroke Associations

  • American Stroke Association
  • National Stroke Association

Patient Education

What is a Stroke?

A stroke happens when a blood vessel that brings oxygen and nutrients to the brain bursts or is blocked. This rupture or blockage keeps an area of the brain from getting the blood and oxygen it needs to work properly. Brain cells where a stroke takes place begin to die after several minutes. In fact, about two million brain cells die every minute during a stroke.

The doctors, nurses and other health care professionals of the certified St. Luke's Stroke Center are dedicated to:

  • The diagnosis and treatment of stroke
  • Raising awareness of the risks and warning signs of stroke 
  • Promoting ways to prevent stroke

Stroke is an Emergency

Ischemic Stroke

A blood vessel becomes blocked – The more common type of stroke are blockages cause by fatty build-ups in the arteries of the brain. They often occur first thing in the morning or at night.

The seriousness of the damage depends on the part of the brain and how much of the brain is affected during the stroke.

Hemorrhagic Stroke

A breakage causes bleeding in the brain – The less common but more fatal stroke happens when bleeding occurs in the brain. These strokes can be caused by high blood pressure and aneurysms.

The seriousness of the damage depends on the part of the brain and how much of the brain is affected during the stroke.

Transient Ischemic Attack

A blood clot blocks an artery for a short time causing a "mini stroke" or transient ischemic attack (TIA). The symptoms of a TIA are the same as those of a stroke, but they usually last only a few minutes.

About 15 percent of strokes are preceeded by TIAs. Like symptoms of ischemic an hemmorrhagic strokes, call 9-1-1 or seek emergency medical attention immediately!

What to Expect

A stroke victim is likely to undergo brain imaging tests, such as a CT scan or MRI, and other tests and blood work while in the hospital. These tests will help identify the type and cause of the stroke and stroke risk factors. Treatment options are based on the results of the tests as well as the recommendations from the specialists on the team.

Common Stroke Treatments

Common stroke treatments include:

Clot-busting medication can be given within the first three hours of stroke to minimize or prevent damage caused by stroke. Additionally, endovascular procedures to remove blood clots from an artery also can be performed emergently. Therefore, a rapid, organized response by a team of experts is essential for the quick evaluation, diagnoses and treatment of stroke victims. This emergency stroke response team at St. Luke's consists of Emergency Department physicians and nurses, CT scan technologists, neurologists, radiologists and interventional radiologists. This organized "Stroke Alert" is crucial in providing timely care for stroke patients.

Stroke Warning Signs

Cellular damage caused by a stroke can lead to a range of symptoms. Call 9-1-1 if you experience any of the following:

  • Numbness/weakness of the face, arm or leg, especially on one side of the body;
  • Confusion, trouble speaking or understanding;
  • Trouble seeing in one or both eyes;
  • Trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination; and
  • Severe headache with no known cause.

Preventing Stroke

Knowing your risks is the first step in prevention! It is not always possible to prevent a stroke. Have regular medical checkups, know your risk factors and do what you can to change and lower your risk of stroke.

Risk Factors You Can Control

  • High blood pressure
  • Tobacco use
  • Diabetes
  • Carotid or other artery disease
  • Atrial fibrillation or other heart disease
  • Certain blood disorders
  • High cholesterol
  • Physical inactivity or obesity
  • Excessive alcholol intake
  • Illegal drug use

Risk Factors You CANNOT Control

  • Increasing age - risk of a stroke increases after the age of 55 
  • Gender
  • Heredity and race
  • Prior stroke

Lifestyle Changes

A healthy lifestyle can decrease disability and death from a stroke and heart attack. Here are some steps you can take:

  • Don't smoke
  • Improve your eating habits
  • Be physically active
  • Take your medicine as directed
  • Know and control your blood pressure
  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Decrease your stress level
  • Seek emotional support when needed
  • See your doctor for regular checkups

St. Luke's also has renewed public awareness efforts regarding stroke prevention, stroke risk factors and stroke warning signs – critical factors to decreasing deaths and disability caused by stroke.