Frequently Asked Questions


What is a stroke?

A stroke occurs when a blood vessel that supplies blood to the brain leaks, bursts or is blocked, causing damage to the nerve cells of the brain. This causes the part of the body controlled by the damaged area of the brain to stop working properly. There are two kinds of stroke:

  • Ischemic, which is caused by a blocked or narrowed artery in the brain
  • Hemorrhagic, which is triggered by the sudden leaking or bursting of an artery

Symptoms of stroke include:

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

The effects of an ischemic stroke may cause additional symptoms in women, including:

  • Face, arm or leg pain
  • Hiccups or nausea
  • Chest pain or palpitations
  • Shortness of breath
  • Patients who experience the symptoms of a stroke should call 911 for immediate emergency medical attention.

If you notice one or more of these signs in another person or in yourself, do not wait to seek help. Call 9-1-1 immediately.


What is a transient ischemic attack (TIA)?

A transient ischemic attack is a brief episode when parts of the brain do not receive enough blood. Because the blood supply is restored quickly, brain tissue does not die as it does in a stroke. These attacks are often early warning signs of a stroke.

Patients who experience the symptoms of TIA should call 9-1-1 for immediate emergency medical attention.


Is there anything I can do to prevent a stroke or TIA?

There are a few key lifestyle changes that are known to reduce the risk of stroke and TIA, including:


What sets Cedars-Sinai's Stroke Program apart?

As the first medical center in Los Angeles County to earn Comprehensive Stroke Center certification from The Joint Commission and the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association, Cedars-Sinai remains the top tier of stroke intervention facilities in the region. This prestigious designation identifies hospitals with the equipment, infrastructure, staff and training needed to diagnose and treat the most challenging and complex stroke cases.

Year after year, the Stroke Program at Cedars-Sinai also has earned the highest possible honors from The Joint Commission and AHA/ASA, including Get With The Guidelines Gold Plus and Target: Stroke Honor Roll awards, given in recognition of the program’s consistent meeting and exceeding of national quality of care standards.

The Stroke Program offers access to a collaborative team of specialists, dedicated to building comprehensive individualized treatment plans, utilizing the latest imaging systems and techniques, leading-edge drug therapy and advanced interventional devices. The experts at Cedars-Sinai also are leaders in stroke research, teaching and community education.


How do I get a referral to see a Cedars-Sinai Stroke Program specialist?

Patients experiencing stroke symptoms should seek immediate emergency medical care. As a Comprehensive Stroke Center, Cedars-Sinai has specialists onsite and ready for rapid response at all times.

For non-emergency care, patients may need a referral from their primary care physician before seeing one of Cedars-Sinai’s neurological experts, depending on their healthcare insurance. Please call 1-800-CEDARS-1 (1-800-233-2771), or email for more information.

For information on reaching us from outside the United States, please contact our International Health Services team.

Information on billing, insurance and medical records is available in the Cedars-Sinai Patient and Visitors Guide.


How should I prepare for my doctor’s appointment?

For non-emergency visits, patients can do the following to get the most out of their appointments:

  • Write down and bring along any questions about their condition or treatment.
  • Obtain a digital copy of any previous brain or artery scans, including magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), computed tomography (CT) and any ultrasounds. Written reports are not as helpful in evaluating stroke risk, and the stroke experts at Cedars-Sinai will need to the actual images. These digital copies should be easily obtainable from the medical centers where they were performed.
  • Keep a record of symptoms, including any changes between appointments and if the symptoms are affecting work or personal life.
  • Bring all current medications, vitamins and supplements. It is important to bring the bottles to the appointment so physicians may do a complete review.
  • Bring prior medical records if transferring from a medical provider outside of the Cedars-Sinai’s network.
  • If possible, fill out any required paperwork in advance of the visit.

Should I bring someone with me?

Yes, we always encourage patients to bring a spouse, family member or close friend with them to their appointments.


Are there current clinical trials open to patients?

Neuroscience experts at Cedars-Sinai are working to use their clinical experience and research knowledge to lead the way in finding new treatments, techniques and diagnostic procedures. Our ongoing clinical trials are open to all eligible participants, and patients are encouraged to pursue involvement.


Where can I learn more about Cedars-Sinai?

For more than a century, Cedars-Sinai has been dedicated to excellence, compassion and innovation in patient care. Information about Cedars-Sinai and our history can be found in the About Us section of the website.