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Boo! Strokes don't have to be scary


I hope everyone had a happy Halloween on Friday. This little witch thoroughly enjoyed the Brunswick parade and trick-or-treating with her big cousin and friends. She claimed to be a "Princess-Queen-Witch" because she did not want to scare anyone. Sweet kid. I don’t want to scare anyone either, but you should know that Stroke is the #4 killer in Maine and the #1 cause of disability. Wednesday was World Stroke Day. This is not a holiday that we celebrate like Halloween. It is a day for reflection and to strive to educate everyone about the signs and symptoms of stroke. I hope by now you know the acronym F-A-S-T. Face Drooping-Arm Weakness-Slurred Speech-Time to call 9-1-1. In stroke care, time is of the essence. Here is why (borrowed heavily from

If you’re having a stroke, it’s critical that you get medical attention right away. Immediate treatment may minimize the long-term effects of a stroke and even prevent death. Thanks to recent medical advances, stroke treatments and survival rates have improved greatly over the last decade.

Stroke Treatment: tPA, the Gold Standard
A stroke occurs when a vessel in the brain is blocked by a blood clot or ruptures. A stroke caused by a clot is called an ischemic stroke; about 85 percent of all strokes in the United States are ischemic. The only FDA-approved treatment for ischemic strokes is tissue plasminogen activator (tPA, also known as IV rtPA, given through an IV in the arm). tPA works by dissolving the clot and improving blood flow to the part of the brain being deprived of oxygen rich blood. If administered within three hours from the beginning of stroke symptoms, tPA may improve the chances of recovering from a stroke.

A significant number of stroke victims don’t get to the hospital in time for tPA treatment; this is why it’s so important to identify a stroke immediately.

Not only is it important to get to the hospital fast, it is critical that EMS and the hospital have the right protocols in place to treat stroke—including to administer tPA as soon as possible, within the first 3 hours since symptom onset. The American Heart Association/American Stroke Association works hard in Maine to help hospitals and EMS develop the right protocols to get all stroke patients the treatment they need.

Eastern Maine Medical Center, Maine Medical Center, Mid Coast Hospital and Pen Bay Medical Center are certified by The Joint Commission as Primary Stroke Centers.  This means that these hospitals meet standards to support better outcomes for stroke care using evidence-based treatment. A big thank you to them for going the extra mile!

So, don’t say "Trick-or-Treat", call 9-1-1. EMS will call in a "Stroke Alert" and take it from there.

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