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Get trusted information about stroke, from education and prevention to emergency care and rehabilitation.

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Stroke is a serious condition that requires clinical care by a physician or other healthcare professional. 

Signs and Symptoms of Stroke

The following are the most common symptoms of stroke. However, each individual may experience symptoms differently.

Risk Factors for Stroke

Many risk factors for stroke can be changed or managed, while others that relate to hereditary or natural processes cannot be changed.

Types of Stroke

Strokes can be classified into two main categories: strokes caused by blockage of an artery or a vein, and strokes caused by bleeding.

Effects of Stroke

When an area of the brain is damaged, which typically occurs with a stroke, an impairment may result. 

Treatment for Stroke

Although there is no cure for stroke once it has occurred, advanced medical and surgical treatments are now available.

Physicians Regional Stroke Care

The Comprehensive Stroke Center at Physicians Regional Healthcare System offers highly advanced care to the patients that experience brain attacks. These patients require and deserve the most up-to-date and evidence-based treatment including:

  • A 24/7 response team, available at all times to quickly evaluate and initiate treatment for the acute stroke patient
  • Immediate access to the Neurovascular & Stroke Institute physicians
  • The first 3T MRI in Southwest Florida, providing better results…faster
  • 24-hour teleneurology coverage
  • Dedicated hybrid surgical suite in Southwest Florida
  • A dedicated, robust clinical team specializing in: Emergency, Radiology, Neurosurgery, Critical Care, Respiratory, Physical Therapy, Occupational Therapy, Speech Language Pathology
  • The first specialized Neuro-Intensive Care Unit available in Southwest Florida, designed with general and step-down levels of care, with a clinical staff specializing in the treatment and care of patients that have experienced a stroke
  • Post-discharge recovery including: Case Management services, education, support groups and outreach for stroke awareness to staff, community, patients and their families.

Physicians Regional-Pine Ridge is the first certified Comprehensive Stroke Center in Southwest Florida and Physicians Regional-Collier Boulevard holds a Primary Stroke designation.

To find out more about the Florida Agency for Health Care Administration stroke center criteria, please visit the ACHA website.

If this is an emergency or you believe you are experiencing the symptoms of a stroke, please dial 911 immediately.

Stroke Care Services

High-quality stroke care

When a patient comes to the hospital with stroke symptoms, it’s crucial to make a proper diagnosis quickly in order to begin treatment — immediate treatment can help avoid or minimize the effects of stroke. Physicians Regional’s experienced stroke team has the expertise and technology to delivery life-saving care. At Physicians Regional, you can count on:

  • Speed – Treatments given during the first three hours after a stroke can greatly reduce or even reverse the effects of stroke, so our stroke care professionals are ready to jump into action immediately.
  • Expertise – Physicians Regional’s doctors, nurses, emergency professionals and other specialists meet high educational standards, and are specially trained to identify stroke symptoms and administer the latest treatments.
  • Technology – Physicians Regional’s stroke care experts utilize the most advanced testing and imaging technology available, allowing them to identify the type of stroke within minutes so they are able to begin treatment. Our 64-slice CT scanner provides the necessary speed and resolution required for rapid imaging of blood vessels in the brain, so doctors can begin treatment as quickly as possible.

Expert treatment for stroke

Our highly trained stroke care experts are well equipped to deliver life-saving care for ischemic and hemorrhagic strokes, and can perform the latest, minimally invasive treatment options:

  • Angioplasty and stent placement are used to open blocked arteries and veins.
  • Embolizing agents (clotting medications) are delivered by catheter to stop blood flow resulting from hemorrhagic strokes.
  • Thrombolitic therapy, which is also delivered by catheter, uses clot-dissolving medicine to treat ischemic strokes.
  • Minimally invasive surgery can be used to remove a clot, or repair arteries and veins.
  • Stroke care extends through recovery

Our rehabilitation care is designed to help individuals regain their independence, and includes specialized services for stroke recovery. Physicians Regional’s multidisciplinary rehabilitation team provides caring, personalized assistance to help patients meet their goals.

If this is an emergency or you believe you are experiencing the symptoms of a stroke, please dial 911 immediately.

Stroke Team

Under the direction of Eric Eskioglu, MD, Director, Stroke and Neurovascular Surgery and Brian Mason, MD, Director, NeuroEndovascular Surgery and NeuroInterventional Radiology - Physicians Regional has a response team in place 24 hours a day, 365 days a year for the acute stroke patient. Our team of specialists includes:

  • EMS personnel
  • Physicians: Emergency Department  SOC, Neuroendovascular Surgery, Radiology, Critical Care, Midlevels
  • ER RNs and team
  • Respiratory
  • Rehab Services: Physical Therapy, Occupational Therapy, Speech
  • Case management personnel
  • NES team
  • Radiology team: CT, MRI, X-ray
  • Specialists on call
  • Board-certified stroke neurologists with 15 minute response time, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year

If this is an emergency or you believe you are experiencing the symptoms of a stroke, please dial 911 immediately.

Patient Stories

Meet Sam Huettel

  • Lely High School Senior, Baseball Player, Ruptured Brain Aneurysm Survivor
  • His doctor: Brian Mason, M.D., Neuroendovascular Radiology

Sam's Story

Like most teens the summer before their triumphant Senior Year in High School, Sam Huettel was looking forward to a new year at Lely High School and his “reason for being”—his  passion for school sports. Of course, like any rising Senior, he already had his eye on the prize: his May 30, 2014 graduation date.

Sam freely admits to having a confident feeling of “invincibility”—one that seems to naturally go hand-in-hand with members of his age group. However, Sam was ultimately the anomaly; he suffered a fate few his age could comprehend; a fate no one his age should ever have to experience.

Seventeen-year-old Sam Huettel suffered a stroke.

As was the case with countless area students participating in school athletics, on July 11, 2013, Sam was innocently engaged in a seemingly healthy activity. Arguably, one of the healthiest of them all: weight lifting in the weight room at Lely.

However, his life changed in an instant the very moment he suffered, what he describes as, a pain so intense it felt like “a brick hitting him in the back of his head.”

Until this day, other than the occasional headache which he routinely dismissed, Sam had no reason to believe he was anything less than the typical “invincible” teen. Once home, even his parents were hesitant to overreact to the condition. After all, their son was only 17—and an athlete. And, as they say, he was the picture of health.

However, as the symptoms intensified, Sam landed in the Emergency Room at nearby Physicians Regional-Collier Boulevard on July 12.

A CT scan of his brain showed very subtle blood in the brain. He was then taken to the Neurovascular and Stroke Institute Physician Regional Hospital-Pine Ridge. He was initially assessed by Dr. Eric Eskioglu, a Neurologic Vascular and Endovascular Surgeon who confirmed the findings consistent with that of a life threatening ruptured brain aneurysm. He performed a diagnostic cerebral angiogram (similar to a heart catheterization but looking at vessels in the brain) and diagnosed a “blister” aneurysm arising from the vessel supplying his right eye. Due to the small size of the aneurysm, it was not treatable with plugging the aneurysm using platinum coils. Dr. Eskioglu initially discussed a surgical clipping procedure where a part of the skull would be taken out, gently dissecting through the brain and putting a mini-surgical clip to treat the ruptured aneurysm. However, this would be associated with 10-15% chance of blindness in the right eye. To Sam, who is a very young, active and aspiring athlete, this was not an acceptable risk. After discussing this with his family, they wanted to explore any other avenues which would minimize risk of damage to his vision. He was then referred to Dr. Brian Mason, who has extensive experience with use of a new and different type of treatment of aneurysms which is usually reserved for brain aneurysm patients who are not good coil or surgical candidates. This involves placement of a device in the vessel to divert flow away from the aneurysm, allowing the aneurysm to shrink and heal itself over a period of time. After lengthy discussions with Sam and his family, Dr. Mason agreed to use this device in Sam. The minimally invasive brain surgery done through an artery in the groin actually took about 40 minutes. Sam had excellent recovery, while being observed under the watchful care of his doctors and nurses in the Neurologic Intensive Care Unit at Physicians Regional Hospital. He was eventually discharged without any problems. 

Throughout this ordeal, Sam never missed a single day of school.

Moreover, Sam’s recovery has been so extraordinary that, by January 2014, he was cleared by doctors to play basketball in the upcoming season.

After graduation, Sam plans to attend Valencia College in Orlando with the ultimate goal of studying Business/Marketing and Sports Management at the University of Central Florida.

Though Sam has grown from the experience—in both maturity and compassion—he is also quick to comment: “I am lucky to be alive. I am not invincible.”

Sam Huettel may not be invincible; however, he’s something much more important. Sam is a fighter—and he’s a stroke survivor.

Meet Carol Hippert

  • Dog lover, Painter, Ruptured Brain Aneurysm Survivor
  • Her doctor: Brian Mason, M.D., Neuroendovascular Radiology

Carol's Story

Carol Hippert knows how to keep busy.  She is a dog lover, a painter and an avid reader, when she is not pursuing her passion, crocheting.

Carol was in a medical office getting a study done to evaluate the density of her bones when she suffered a sudden onset of severe head and neck pain. The pain was attributed to a neck sprain and she was given a pill to relax the muscles which helped. However, during the course of the day and the following day, she continued to have the severe headache with nausea which left her bedridden. For such an active woman, friends and family knew something was wrong. When her daughter called Carol’s physician, she was told to go to the nearest Emergency Room immediately. She had an initial work-up at Physicians Regional-Collier Boulevard with a CT scan of her head which revealed blood in her brain.

She was then immediately transferred to Physicians Regional Pine Ridge Campus, which has an AHCA accredited Comprehensive Stroke Program which specializes in treatment of acute strokes and ruptured aneurysms. There she and her family were met by Dr. Brian Mason, who is an Endovascular Neurologic Surgeon specializing in minimally invasive treatment of stroke. A quick CT angiogram verified a large ruptured aneurysm in her brain. She was stabilized and then taken to surgery where her aneurysm was fixed through a tiny incision in the groin which allowed Dr. Mason to navigate a small catheter through her blood vessels into the brain and into the aneurysm. The aneurysm was then plugged by platinum coils. The whole complex brain surgery took less than 2 hours. Carol had a remarkable recovery in the hospital and was discharged, having suffered no neurologic deficits. 

After her discharge from the hospital and a short stint in a rehabilitation facility, Carol finds herself getting back to normal more and more each day.
However, one thing has definitely not diminished as a result of Carol’s medical ordeal-her enviable sense of humor and keen ability to serve up a joke to elicit a laugh.

However, one thing has definitely not diminished as a result of Carol’s medical ordeal-her enviable sense of humor and keen ability to serve up a joke to elicit a laugh.

Though being an aneurysm survivor is no laughing matter, there’s little doubt that Carol’s sharp wit has helped to keep her grounded—just as it has contributed to her amazing recovery.

Ask her today about her experience and she will look at you with that characteristic twinkle in her eye and say: “I’m still here—it’s a miracle.” Carol know the odds she beat to be here today and is thankful for the excellent, lifesaving care she got from her doctors and the nurses at Physicians Regional Pine Ridge Hospital.

Meet Carolyn Agress

  • Great-Grandmother, Book-lover, Ruptured Brain Aneurysm Survivor
  • Her doctor: Brian Mason, M.D., Neuroendovascular Radiology

When Naples resident Carolyn Agress’ two sons suggested she move closer to one of them, she naturally chose the beauty and splendor of Florida’s Gulf Coast over the more congested Washington, DC suburbs. That was 10 years ago.

A mother, grandmother, great-grandmother and erstwhile “New York City girl,” Carolyn quickly learned to make the most of her new hometown by offering her time as a volunteer, going to museums and exploring Naples’ arts-rich landscape.

However, at 4:00 am on November 8, 2013—the morning of her 86th Birthday—Carolyn awoke (literally) with a splitting headache. In her words: “It was like an ax had split my head open.”

She wisely called 911. However, her memory of the next two weeks is extremely limited: the sound of her son’s voices; images of the nurses checking all the various equipment connected to her.

Upon arrival to the hospital at Physicians Regional -Pine Ridge Comprehensive Stroke Center, she and her son were met by Dr. Brian Mason, who is a fellowship-trained  Endovascular Neurosurgeon who specializes in treatment of aneurysms and stroke. Through additional tests, Carolyn was found to have a large ruptured brain aneurysm. Dr. Mason took her to the operating room to treat this large aneurysm utilizing minimally invasive approach via a tiny incision in the groin. The brain surgery only took 1 hour but it would take Carolyn 14 days in the ICU to recover.  She does not remember anything during this time, but her family, especially her son who stood vigil by his mom’s side remembers the excellent medical care she received in the hands of Dr. Mason and the nurses in the ICU. The team in the ICU communicated Carolyn’s condition every day as her condition hung in the balance early on. Through diligent medical care, Carolyn was able to make a full recovery without suffering any stroke. After discharge from the hospital, she needed to go to rehab to get her strength back up after overcoming a life-threatening ordeal. 

Today, Carolyn is driving herself again and takes great delight at no longer requiring an afternoon nap. She feels like her old self again, without any anxiety or worries, fully confident in the follow up care she is receiving by Dr. Mason.

A New York City transplant, book lover and potentially fatal ruptured brain aneurysm survivor, Carolyn and her family have great appreciation for the care they have received from the Neuro Team at Physicians Regional Comprehensive Stroke Center.

Carolyn offers this very simple summary of what is ultimately a small part of her life’s journey: “Good thing I moved to Florida!”  She was able to get the benefits of advanced medical care and a local son to help her in her time of need.

Meet Mary Monnot

  • Mother, Grandmother, Ruptured Brain Aneurysm Survivor
  • Her doctor: Brian Mason, M.D., Neuroendovascular Radiology

It’s true, so many of us would love to have our children living just a few steps from our front door. If your name is Mary Jane Monnot, having a child also can double as a neighbor who can ultimately help save your life.

On August 13, 2013, Mary Jane developed, what she describes as, “a terrible headache.” So bad in fact, Mary Jane wisely surmised she needed immediate medical attention.

Her first phone call was to Andrew, her son who lived five houses down the street from his mother. Andrew knew things were not right by the way his mom was slurring her speech on the phone.   By the time Andrew arrived, Mary Jane was already unconscious.

As is often the case with stroke or aneurysm survivors, Mary Jane doesn’t remember anything from the time she called her son until she awoke from a two-week coma to discover her two brothers were in the room—one of whom she had not seen in long time. Only then did Mary Jane realize something “terrible had happened.”

Mary Jane was initially taken to another local hospital for immediate assessment. On arrival, she was unresponsive and had to be intubated to sustain her airways and keep her alive.  A CT scan of the brain demonstrated a massive brain bleed, presumably from a ruptured aneurysm. The Emergency Physician called Dr. Brian Mason, who is a Neurologic Endovascular Surgeon specializing in treatment of aneurysms, to transfer the patient to the Comprehensive Stroke Center at Physicians Regional Hospital on Pine Ridge. On arrival, Mary Jane’s condition was deteriorating.  She was completely comatose and was showing early signs of extensor posturing which is usually one step away from death.  She had to have a drain placed in her brain to alleviate the swelling. Dr. Mason took her to the operating room to treat a giant brain aneurysm nearly 1 inch in size through a tiny incision in the groin to prevent another rupture. Surgery was successful and Mary Jane improved however, she still had a lot of blood in her brain which was impeding her recovery.  2 days after her aneurysm repair surgery, Dr. Eric Eskioglu who is a Neurologic Surgeon, performed a delicate brain surgery to remove the large blood clot from the brain while avoiding any brain tissue to minimize risk of a stroke.  Mary Jane stayed in the Neurologic Intensive Care Unit in the hospital for 17 days, breathing through a tube in her throat (tracheostomy tube) and being fed through a tube placed directly into her stomach (gastrostomy tube), while a drainage tube in her brain was controlling the swelling in her brain. Through it all, Mary Jane was a fighter.  The woman who came to PRHS half dead had an amazing recovery through sheer will and the diligent care she received in the hands of Dr. Mason and Dr. Eskioglu. 

Today, former social worker Mary Jane Monnot is driving again and has her short-term memory back. Two months ago, she even started working again as a private duty companion. Plus, she has her eyes on supplementing her workload by adding “substitute teacher” to her resume—the same resume that would not be possible without her “ruptured brain aneurysm survivor” status.

Mary Jane may have initially been surprised to learn of everything she missed between that fateful night in August until she awoke two weeks later. However, even then, Mary Jane’s response to hearing about the ordeal followed her characteristic upbeat format: “Oh dear—but I’m alive, active and I can still think!”

Clearly, she is and she still does.

Meet Marta Cleveland

  • Retired Certified Nursing Assistant, Cat Lover, Ruptured Brain Aneurysm Survivor
  • Her doctor: Eric Eskioglu, M.D., Cerebrovascular Neurosurgery

Marta's Story Coming Soon




Meet America Martinez

  • Mother of Five, Proud Seminole Tribe Member, Stroke Survivor
  • Her doctor: Brian Mason, M.D., Neuroendovascular Radiology

America's Story

There are few things that give America Martinez more joy than being a mother to her five children. However, her sense of self is anchored in the pride she exhibits as a proud member of the Seminole Tribe.

In particular, America celebrates her Seminole culture by practicing the traditional Seminole art of beadwork. The creation and wearing of elaborate beadwork has always been an important part of a Seminole woman’s daily life.

A quiet young woman, unaccustomed to the spotlight, America was completely unprepared for the disruption to her life—and that of her children—when she suffered a devastating stroke.

It all started with a vague atypical headache and an atypical neck pain and stiffness on her right side on Tuesday. By Thursday her headaches were getting worse and now she was developing neck pain on the left side also. By Friday night, she was having double vision, equilibrium problems to a point where she could not walk straight and had problems with slurring her speech. She was seen at a local ER for these symptoms and was given some medications which temporarily helped. She was diagnosed with dehydration and a viral bug and then was discharged home. By eight o’clock in the morning, she was still in bed and not getting up which is unusual for this mother of 5 children. When her family went to her room to get her up, they found that she was unresponsive. She was rushed back to the same Emergency Room. A more detailed work up found large stroke in the back of the head by her brainstem due to a large clot in the vessel supplying the brainstem. Initially everyone thought that it was too late to do anything about the stroke. When the local emergency room physician finally contacted Dr. Brian Mason, an Endovascular Neurosurgeon on call at the Comprehensives Stroke Center at Physicians Regional Pine Ridge Campus, he immediately recommended transferring the patient over for a possible emergent life saving procedure. By the time America arrived at PRHS at 12:30 noon on Saturday, she was completely unresponsive due to a large clot in the artery next to her brainstem. This clot developed because of a rare spontaneous rupture and blockage (dissection) of both neck vessels (vertebral arteries) which supply this area. Dr. Mason had to rapidly make a decision regarding care in this patient. The worry was that she had already suffered a significant amount of stroke and any intervention may cause her to die. However, not intervening would doom this young patient at best to a massive debilitating stroke or at worst, death. After discussing the situation with the family, Dr. Mason performed a minimally invasive surgery, putting up a catheter through a vessel in the groin into her neck where the artery was damaged. He was able to fix the damaged neck artery with a stent (similar to heart stent treatment). He then was able to put a large catheter into the artery and suck the clot out and completely re-establish flow to her brainstem. After a few nail-biting days in the ICU where America was closely watched by her doctors and nurses, she had a remarkable recovery. She was sent to a rehabilitation hospital closer to her home on the east coast where she made almost perfect recovery with only residual deficit being an occasional double vision when she looks to her left side which can be corrected by prescription lenses. Her follow up angiogram 6 months later showed that the damaged arteries in her neck were completely healed.

Medicine Men and Women still play an important role in the lives of many Seminole Indians; these respected practitioners do not replace medical doctors as their treatments are not designed to take the place of organized medicine. Many Seminole Tribe members still believe that good luck, bad luck, success, failure, danger, safety, right decisions, wrong decision and more can be influenced by the application of traditional Seminole Medicine.

A proud Seminole and a stroke survivor, America enjoys the advantages of her cultural heritage and the lifesaving medical care she got in the hands of Dr. Mason and the nursing staff at Neurovascular and Stroke Institute at Physicians Regional Hospital-Pine Ridge Campus.

Physicians Regional Comprehensive Stroke Center

Physicians Regional-Pine Ridge is the first certified Comprehensive Stroke Center in Southwest Florida and Physicians Regional-Collier Boulevard holds a Primary Stroke designation. Physicians Regional is dedicated to providing the highest quality of care to those individuals who experience a stroke. From the latest in emergency treatment to inpatient hospitalization and rehabilitation, patients are assured the best care from specialists in treating stroke patients with the latest medical technology.

The Stroke Team commits to aggressive early intervention, progressive treatment, and rehabilitation to maximum recovery. If this is an emergency or you believe you are experiencing the symptoms of a stroke, please dial 911 immediately.

Find Us
We offer Stroke Care Center care at 2 locations.