Stroke | TIA

Our Approach to Care

At MaineHealth, we offer compassionate and complete stroke treatment. Our dedicated caregivers provide expertise and fast response to coordinate care and help recovery. Our Telestroke Network brings the expertise of highly skilled neurologists to emergency departments in community hospitals 24 hours a day.

What is a Stroke?

A stroke is a medical emergency. Call 9-1-1, if you think that you or someone you know is having a stroke. Strokes occur when the blood flow to your brain stops. Brain cells begin to die. It is important to get to a hospital fast, so that doctors can treat the stroke while it is happening.

What is a TIA?

TIA is the acronym for a transient ischemic attack, also known as a mini-stroke. A TIA happens when there is brief blockage of blood flow to the brain. TIAs usually last less than five minutes. They also are called warning strokes. TIAs should not be ignored. Call 9-1-1 and get medical help right away. They often are a sign that the person is at risk of having a full stroke with much more serious consequences.

Stroke Symptoms

Is It a Stroke?

The following may be signs and symptoms of a stroke. These symptoms require immediate attention. Call 9-1-1, or seek emergency medical care. Don't wait.

  • One side of the face droops or feels numb.
  • One arm is weak or numb.
  • One side of the body is numb.
  • Speech may be slurred.
  • Trouble speaking. Person may be unable to talk or hard to understand.
  • Person is unable to repeat words or a simply sentence.
  • Loss of balance, dizziness.
  • Sudden headache that is very severe.
  • Trouble seeing out of one or both eyes.

Get Help FAST

The American Stroke Association recommends using the following word to identify signs: FAST:

F: Face drooping

A: Arm weakness

S: Speaking is difficult

T: Time to call 9-1-1

Stroke Diagnosis

Tests Done in the Emergency Room

Getting immediate care is important after a stroke. Early treatment is important for outcomes. It is important to call 9-1-1, and seek emergency help for a person who may have just had a stroke. The following tests will be done in the emergency room to diagnose a stroke:

  • CT Scan
  • EKG
  • Blood tests
  • MRI

The following tests may be done later

  • Carotid ultrasound
  • MRA
  • CT angiogram
  • Carotid angiogram

Stroke Treatment

Immediate Treatment Is Essential

If you are having any stroke symptoms, get to a hospital. The best treatment for a stroke is to stop it while it is happening. Doctors will need to dissolve the blood clot or stop the bleeding. To prevent a stroke, you may be prescribed blood thinners as a drug therapy.

The patient may receive a clot-busting drug called tPA right after a stroke. The medicine would be given to the patient in the emergency room in the hours after a stroke. Patients also may be given aspirin or other drugs if tPA is not the best option. The clot also may be removed from the artery. A device called a stent or a suction cup is used to remove it. Additional treatment depends on the cause of the stroke.

Stroke rehabilitation and stroke therapy

Stroke rehab and stroke therapy help patients recover from stroke damage. Stroke rehabilitation focuses on helping people overcome the problems caused by a stroke. Patients often can get stroke therapy services close to home, so there is no need to travel far during stroke recovery.

Am I at Risk for Having a Stroke?

Know the Stroke Risk Factors

Patients cannot change some stroke risk factors, such as age and family history. But there are lifestyle changes that can lower your stroke risk. The following are stroke risk factors:

  • Older adults have a higher risk

  • Family history of heart disease or sickle cell disease

  • Being African American, Native American or Alaskan Native

  • Having a previous stroke, TIA or heart attack

  • Smoking or secondhand smoke

  • High blood pressure

  • High cholesterol

  • Being overweight

  • Diabetes

  • Stress

  • Drug or alcohol misuse or abuse

To reduce your stroke risk, your health care provider may talk to you about making lifestyle changes and also give you resources to help.

Tim's Story

Tim and Vivian love to travel the world. After a rafting trip in Maine, Tim suffered a stroke. Vivian recognized the signs and called 9-1-1 right away. Her quick thinking, along with Maine Medical Center’s Telestroke Network, saved Tim’s life. Watch their full story to learn how MMC is improving stroke care statewide.