At MedStar Georgetown, experts work together across our system to ensure patients receive the care they need, whether it's urgent care, brain surgery, the latest technologies for diagnostics and treatment, cutting-edge clinical trials, or rehabilitation.

Because time is of the essence in treating stroke, our emergency department teams are trained to provide rapid, excellent care by making stroke a priority. In addition, we have a rapid response team that evaluates patients and sets in motion specific procedures to diagnose the cause of the stroke.

What is a Stroke?

A stroke is a brain injury caused when a blood vessel to the brain becomes blocked or bursts, cutting off blood flow and oxygen to the brain. When injury occurs to the brain, and part of the brain cannot get the  blood (and oxygen) it needs, the brain cells die. The symptoms of your stroke depend on where in the brain the cells are impacted.


The two major kinds of stroke are:

  • Ischemic stroke is caused by a blood clot, which blocks an artery feeding the brain. When the blood supply is interrupted, that portion of the brain can no longer function.. About 80 percent of all strokes are ischemic. In many individuals, stroke is preceded by transient episodes of diminished blood supply. These transient ischemic attacks provide warning of impending stroke and create an opportunity to intervene before stroke occurs.
  • Hemorrhagic stroke results when a blood vessel bursts and leaks blood into the brain. A cerebral hemorrhage occurs when an artery in the brain ruptures, and blood under pressure forces itself into brain tissue. This creates a mass of blood that distorts nearby brain structures and interrupts brain function.

Learn about stroke treatments.

Signs and Symptoms of Stroke 

If you suspect that someone is having a stroke, think FAST. 

man with one side of face droop


Ask the person to smile.
Does one side of the face droop?

pair of hands


Ask the person to raise both arms.
Does on are drift downward?

man speaking


Ask the person to repeat a simple phrase.
Is their speech slurred or strange?



If you observe any of these signs, call 9-1-1 immediately. 

Signs and symptoms of stroke include: 

  • Weakness, numbness, tingling or loss of feeling in your face, arm or leg
  • Loss of coordination in your arm or leg
  • Trouble seeing in one or both eyes
  • Double vision
  • Slurred speech, trouble talking or problems understanding others when they speak
  • Sudden, severe headache
  • Dizziness or a feeling of spinning
  • Loss of balance or falling

Learn about risk factors for stroke. 

Make an Appointment

For more information or to schedule an appointment with a stroke specialist, call our scheduling line:


Stroke Specialists

Stroke Neurology

Stroke Nurse Practitioner

  • Ashley Carlson-Chalifoux, MS, RN, AGACNP-BC, CCRN


Vascular Neurosurgery

Interventional Neuroradiology

Stroke Coordinator 

  • Kelsey Dawson BSN, RN, SCRN, CCRN 

Stroke Nurse Navigator 

  • Trish San Juan-Pia BSN, RN, SCRN, CCRN