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Stroke Center

Stroke is a medical emergency.

Stroke is the third leading cause of death in the United States and the leading cause of disability in persons over 60. More than 250 patients are admitted to IRMC annually due to stroke.

IRMC has developed a specific protocol to streamline and expedite the care of stroke patients, which includes evaluation and initiation of treatment with a clot-busting drug called tPA within three hours of first symptoms - for patients deemed appropriate. This medication, which has been used for many years as a treatment for heart attack, has now been found to save lives and decrease disability for certain types of stroke. Patients for whom the drug is appropriate must begin treatment within three hours after first symptoms. IRMC has been awarded the Gold Seal of ApprovalTM and designation as a Primary Stroke Center of Excellence by the Joint Commission, which examined the above protocol. 

Risk factors

  • Diabetes
  • Heart disease
  • High cholesterol
  • Obesity
  • Excessive alcohol intake
  • Transient ischemic attack (temporary interference in blood supply to the brain)
  • Atrial fibrillation (irregular and rapid heart beat)
  • Family history of cerebrovascular disease
  • Hematological (blood) disorders
  • Migraine headaches


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

If you think you are having a stroke, call 911 immediately.
Do not wait for the symptoms to go away.

Stroke Team
Indian River Medical Center has developed a specific protocol that includes coordination with fire-rescue paramedics, the hospital's Emergency Department, Imaging Sciences, Laboratory and throughout the hospital. Physicians, nurses, technicians and therapists all strive for one goal -- exceptional care for stroke patients. All services work together to access and start treatments as early as possible.

S. James Shafer, M.D., board certified neurologist, is the medical director of the Stroke Center. He, along with emergency physicians and staff neurologists, is committed to the thorough evaluation, treatment, and rehabilitation of patients.

Nurses in the Emergency Department, Critical Care Unit, and the Intermediate Cardiac Care Unit receive special training and are certified in stroke care.

IRMC offers inpatient and outpatient physical therapy and speech therapy. Outpatient care is provided at the Rehabilitation Therapy Center, located in the Ambulatory Services Center.

Support Group
A local chapter of the Stroke of Hope Club, which provides support for stroke "victors" and their families and friends, can be reached by calling 772.713.3571 or 772.388.0582.

National organizations
Further information about stroke can be found at the following Web sites:

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