Stroke is the second biggest cause of death in Australia, and the leading cause of adult disability.


Most strokes are caused by blockage or of a blood vessel serving the brain. This causes an infarct, or ischemic stroke. The consequences are deprivation of blood supply to brain cells and the rapid development of cell death. A Transient Ischemic Attack (TIA) is caused by the same processes, only the blockage is broken down rapidly, usually within an hour. A smaller proportion of strokes are caused by bursting of a blood vessel in the brain. This type of stroke is known as an Intracerebral Haemorrhage.


The symptoms of stroke include sudden onset of speech disturbances, weakness of an arms and/or leg, and visual problems. A stroke is a medical emergency: it is essential to seek immediate medical attention as soon as the symptoms become apparent, preferably by calling for an ambulance. In some patients, the effects of stroke are potentially reversible by re-opening blocked blood vessels. This is achieved by either medications (thrombolysis) or a procedure whereby the blood clot is removed from the blood vessels (clot retrieval).


Royal Melbourne Hospital has Australia’s busiest stroke unit, treating close to 1000 inpatients each year. It is at the cutting edge of treatment and research. Several neurologists within Medical Group Victoria are key members of the RMH Stroke Centre team, responsible for looking after admitted stroke patients and teaching junior doctors and trainee neurologists.