• Cutting-Edge Stroke Treatment in the Hudson Valley

    The Vassar Brothers Medical Center stroke and cerebrovascular team offers clinical expertise and treatment for life-threatening neurological conditions, including stroke, aneurysms, blocked arteries and other vascular defects.

    Historically, these advanced procedures were only available at academic medical centers. Now patients in the Hudson Valley have access to:

    • State-of-the-art treatment, which may lead to quicker recovery times and increased survival rates
    • A specialty-trained surgical team who use minimally invasive techniques to rapidly diagnosis and treat stroke
    • Specialized stroke rehabilitation and support

    Vassar Brothers Medical Center is the only hospital in the Mid-Hudson Valley to offer this level of stroke treatment locally. To ensure that all patients in families have access to this expertise in a stroke or cerebrovascular emergency, a coordinated effort is in place to quickly transfer patients from Northern Dutchess Hospital, Sharon Hospital and Putnam Hospital Center to Vassar Brothers Medical Center.  

    Signs of a Stroke: Recognizing Stroke Symptoms

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    (845) 454-8500

    (800) 421-1220

Recognizing stroke symptoms is crucial in order to obtain immediate medical treatment to restore blood flow to the brain. If you detect signs of a stroke in yourself or a loved one, call 911 immediately, as every minute without treatment costs the stroke victim 1.9 million brain cells. Stroke is the third-leading cause of death in the United States, but stroke victims who obtain treatment at a local hospital within the hour have the best outcomes. Survivors of a stroke can suffer permanent brain damage affecting movement, speech and memory.

Signs of a stroke include:

  • Sudden numbness or weakness of the face, arm or leg, commonly on one side of the body
  • Sudden confusion, with trouble speaking or understanding
  • Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes
  • Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, and loss of balance or coordination
  • Sudden severe headache, neck pain and photophobia (light sensitivity) with no known cause


If you see signs of a stroke, act FAST.
The National Stroke Association’s Act FAST (Face Arms Speech Time) test is a simple approach to recognizing stroke symptoms. Here’s what to do if you see signs of a stroke:

  • Face: Ask the person to smile. Does one side of the face droop?
  • Arms: Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm drift downward?
  • Speech: Ask the person to repeat a simple phrase. Is their speech slurred or strange?
  • Time: If you observe any of these signs, call 9-1-1 immediately.

By knowing how to quickly evaluate a person who is exhibiting stroke symptoms, you can help him or her to get rapid emergency care for the best possible outcome.

Types of Stroke

Stroke occurs when the vessels carrying oxygen-rich blood to the brain become either blocked by clots or burst, causing bleeding.  As a result, the brain is deprived of nutrients and oxygen, and brain cells begin to die.  Every minute that the brain is without blood flow, 10,000 neurons dies, so every minute counts.
Below are the different types of stroke, which vary according to intensity:

  • Ischemic stroke occurs when blood vessels become clogged or narrowed, cutting off blood flow to brain cells.
  • Transient ischemic attack (TIA) is a “mini-stroke” that occurs when a blood clot blocks an artery for a brief time.  Symptoms usually last less than 24 hours.
  • Hemorrhagic stroke occurs when a weakened blood vessel ruptures in or near the brain.  The most common cause is high blood pressure (uncontrolled hypertension) and trauma.
  • Brain aneurysm occurs when a weakened area in the wall of a blood vessel bulges or ruptures, causing sudden and severe headache with nausea, vomiting, photophobia, a stiff neck, sudden difficulty walking and loss of consciousness and/or other stroke-like symptoms.
  • Arteriovenous malformation (AVM) is a tangle of blood vessels present at birth that connect an artery to veins in the brain or spinal cord. An AVM can cause headaches, bleeding, seizures and stroke-like symptoms.

Rapid Diagnosis and Emergency Treatment

If a stroke is suspected, the stroke team will intervene quickly, performing tests to determine the type, location and cause of the stroke and rule out any other disorders that may be responsible for the symptoms. Such tests may include vascular imaging of the brain, and MRI scan and an echocardiogram of the heart. At Vassar Brothers Medical Center a state-of-the-art, 64-slice CT scanner is also used to make rapid diagnosis.

If a stroke is diagnosed, the stroke team may give thrombolytic medication, such as IV-tPA (tissue plasminogen activator), which breaks up blood clots and can restore blood flow to the damaged area. Patients who receive this medication are more likely to experience less long-term impairment. However, there is a short window of time that a patient can receive IV-tPA. If this window has passed, the physicians will review other treatment options, which may include:

  • Blood thinners such as Heparin and Coumadin
  • Surgery to remove pooled blood and to repair damaged blood vessels
  • Minimally invasive surgery to retrieve or break up the clot
  • Minimally invasive surgery to repair the damaged blood vessels

Endovascular Surgical Neuroradiology

Vassar Brothers Medical Center is the only hospital in the Hudson Valley to offer Endovascular Surgical Neuroradiology to remove or dissolve blood clots using cutting-edge, minimally invasive technology.

In this procedure, the surgical team inserts a thin, flexible catheter through the femoral artery in the patient’s leg and threads it all the way through the body to the brain. Using advanced technology that renders three-dimensional images in real time, the surgeon can visualize the clot and guide the catheter to remove the clot if possible. If the clot cannot be removed, the surgeon can deliver the tPA directly to the site of the clot. This minimally invasive technique has been found to be more effective than IV administration of tPA alone.*

Rehabilitation for Stroke

Following a stroke, your loved one may be challenged by movement, speech and cognitive difficulties.  That’s why we offer stroke patients physical, occupational and speech therapy to help you regain the use of muscles and limbs.

Whether you need ongoing inpatient, outpatient or sub-acute care, Health Quest hospitals provide comprehensive rehabilitation options, including:  

  • Long-term inpatient rehabilitation: The Thompson House, a 100-bed nursing home on the grounds of Northern Dutchess Hospital (NDH), specializing in the care and rehabilitation of patients with medially complex needs.
  • Short-term inpatient rehabilitation: The Paul Rosenthal Rehabilitation Center is a 10 bed, state-of-the-art, rehabilitation facility on the grounds of NDH, offering comprehensive care to those recovering from neurological, cardiopulmonary and orthopedic disorders.
  • Outpatient rehabilitation: Health Quest rehabilitation centers with state-of-the-art equipment are located throughout the Hudson Valley. The physical, occupational and speech therapist will develop a program customized to your needs.
  • Home care: Stroke patients may need extensive treatment at home. Skilled nurses and home health aides can help stroke patients with activities of daily living as well as home therapy.

Taking care of a stroke patient who has lost significant functionality can tax even the most dedicated caregiver. The Stroke Support Group helps patients and their families deal with a range of medical, emotional and legal issues. Learning about legal topics, such as advance directives and power of attorney, may make it easier to make an ethical decision regarding care.

Recognized for High Quality Stroke Care

Health Quest hospitals are recognized for advanced achievements in stroke care.

Vassar Brothers Medical Center is a designated Primary Stroke Center through the New York State Designation Program and received the Get with the Guidelines® Stroke Gold Quality Achievement Award with Target: Stroke Honor Roll.

To receive this award, Vassar met specific quality achievement measures for a designated period for the diagnosis and treatment of stroke patients. The award recognizes the hospital's commitment and success in ensuring stroke patients receive the most appropriate treatment according to nationally recognized, research-based guidelines based on the latest scientific evidence.


Vassar Brothers Medical Center
45 Reade Place
Poughkeepsie, NY 12601
(845) 454-8500
(800) 421-1220