Comprehensive Stroke & Cerebrovascular Center

Stroke is the No. 1 cause of disability and the fourth leading cause of death in the United States, with about 800,000 cases each year, about 8,000 of them in Orange County. A stroke, or brain attack, occurs when a blood vessel in the brain is blocked (by a blood clot) or bursts.

If you or someone you know is experiencing symptoms, seek medical help immediately. The quicker treatment begins, the better your chances are for survival and full recuperation. New clot-busting drugs can help reduce disability, but they must be given within a few hours of the onset of symptoms.

Our expert neurologists of the UC Irvine Health Comprehensive Stroke & Cerebrovascular Center offer patients state-of-the-art diagnosis and treatment. Their skill earned UC Irvine Medical Center certification as Orange County's first Comprehensive Stroke Center by The Joint Commission, the nation's leading healthcare accreditation body.

This certification by The Joint Commission is reserved for hospitals equipped to receive and treat the most complex stroke cases. It further confirms that UC Irvine Health meets the highest national standards for safety and quality of care in the treatment of ischemic and hemorrhagic strokes, as well as transient ischemic attacks.

When we have stabilized our patients, we provide them with around-the-clock care in one of the region's most advanced neuro-intensive care units. Our team is dedicated to helping our stroke patients achieve a full recovery.

The UC Irvine Health Comprehensive Stroke & Cerebrovascular Center is one of the few nationally certified medical facilities in Southern California to offer interventional neuroradiology treatments for stroke and cerebrovascular conditions.

With this minimally invasive technique, our physicians use a micro-catheter to deliver clot-dissolving drugs, perform clot removal or administer other treatments to the tiny damaged vessels in the brain.

Our team provides:

  • Multidisciplinary stroke care from the moment a patient enters the emergency room
  • Rapid interpretation of brain scans in the emergency department
  • Around-the-clock support by neurologists, neurosurgeons, interventional neuroradiologists and other experts
  • Stroke-reversing treatments, including clot-dissolving drugs and clot retrieval procedures
  • A neurological intensive care unit
  • Written protocols for patient care and ongoing quality assurance and outcome reporting
  • Neurobiological approaches to long-term recovery through brain repair strategies

Working at Orange County's only university hospital, our stroke specialists also conduct clinical research studies aimed at developing innovative treatments to restore patient function after a stroke as well as to prevent brain attacks. Patients enrolled in the center’s clinical studies have access to new medications and treatments not available elsewhere in the county.

The stroke center's board-certified specialists are part of a highly trained team that includes stroke neurologists, neuro-interventional radiologists, neurosurgeons, neuro-intensive care specialists, rehabilitation physicians and other professionals at UC Irvine Medical Center, which is Orange County’s only university hospital.

Team members work in concert to ensure that our patients receive the finest, most compassionate care.

Comprehensive stroke center

The UC Irvine Health Comprehensive Stroke & Cerebrovascular Center was the first in Orange County, and among the first in the nation, to earn national certification as a Primary Stroke Center by The Joint Commission in 2004. This certification, by the predominant standards-setting and accrediting body in healthcare, let emergency responders know which area hospitals were best equipped to diagnose and treat stroke patients in the critical minutes and hours after the initial symptoms.

In August, 2013, our stroke center became the first in Orange County to receive the commission's highest level of certification, as a Comprehensive Stroke Center. It is a designation reserved for those hospitals with the demonstrated ability to receive and treat the most complex stroke cases and meet the highest national standards for safety and quality of care in the treatment of patients who are suffering ischemic and hemorrhagic strokes, and transient ischemic attacks.

Stroke receiving center

The Orange County Health Care Agency has designated UC Irvine Medical Center as a regional Stroke-Neurology Receiving Center, which indicates to paramedics and ambulance drivers that the stroke center provides the highest of neurovascular care.

Not all hospitals have the resources or personnel to effectively treat a stroke. The county requires that a Stroke-Neurology Receiving Center have a dedicated medical director, an emergency medicine physician on-site at all times, and a neurologist, neurosurgeon and radiologist always on call.

In addition, the center has 24-hour access to an neuro-interventional radiologist who can extract a stroke-inducing blood clot by inserting a catheter into the arteries supplying a patient's brain.

Clot-busting drugs

Another advance in stroke treatment is the drug tPA (tissue plasminogen activator), which breaks up clots. However, it must be administered within three hours of the onset of stroke symptoms to prevent permanent brain damage. Yet only about 3 percent of U.S. stroke patients reach a hospital quickly enough to be considered for this treatment.

The Stroke-Neurology Receiving Center system is committed to improving those numbers.

The UC Irvine Health Comprehensive Stroke and Cerebrovascular Center's stroke team combines experts across a wide range of disciplines who work together to determine the best treatment plan for each patient and provide thorough follow-up to ensure continuous care.

Our stroke team includes:

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