Maine Cardiovascular Health Program

What is Stroke?

Stroke is a disease that affects the arteries leading to and within the brain. It is the fourth leading cause of death in Maine and a leading cause of adult disability. About 137,000 Americans die from stroke every year. A stroke occurs when a blood vessel that carries oxygen and nutrients to the brain is either blocked by a clot or bursts. When that happens, part of the brain cannot get the blood and oxygen it needs, so it starts to die.

You may be able to prevent stroke by controlling your blood pressure, reducing your blood cholesterol levels and stopping tobacco use. Learn the stroke risk factors so you can work to reduce your chance of having a stroke.

Learn the stroke symptoms and call 911 immediately if you think you or someone else may be having a stroke.

Types of Stroke

  • Hemorrhagic Stroke is the most serious type of stroke. It occurs when a blood vessel in the brain bursts. Blood accumulates and compresses the surrounding brain tissue.
  • Ischemic Stroke occurs when blood flow to the brain becomes blocked by blood clots or fatty deposits called plaque in blood vessel linings. This type of stroke accounts for 85 percent of all strokes.
  • Transient Ischemic Attack (TIA), also known as a "mini-stroke" or “warning stroke” can happen before a major stroke and should be taken very seriously. They occur when the blood flow to part of the brain is blocked or reduced for a short period of time, resulting in temporary symptoms similar to those of a stroke. A TIA may not leave noticeable damage but it is important to talk to your doctor immediately. A person who has a TIA is 9.5 times more likely to have a stroke.