Certified Primary Stroke Center in Portsmouth

Stroke is the nation's fifth leading cause of death, and the leading cause of serious, long-term disability in the U.S.

Portsmouth Regional Hospital's commitment to providing outstanding stroke care has earned us the Gold Seal of Approval® for certification as a Primary Stroke Center from the Joint Commission. It has also earned us the Get With the Guidelines Quality Achievement Award for Stroke Care from the American Heart Association. This means residents on the Seacoast have access to better, faster stroke treatment—which is especially important when it comes to stroke—because "time is brain."

If you think you or someone you love is experiencing a stroke, always call 911 first.

Know the warning signs

If you suspect a stroke, quick action—medical help within three hours after symptoms appear—saves brain cells and quality of life. There are many treatments and interventions for stroke that, if administered quickly, can vastly improve patient outcomes.

Remember to act F.A.S.T to identify symptoms:

  • Face: Ask the person to smile. Does one side of the face droop?
  • Arms: Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm drift downward?
  • Speech: Ask the person to repeat a simple phrase. Is their speech slurred or strange?
  • Time: If you observe any of the signs, it's time to call 911 immediately.

Specialized stroke treatment

When EMS notifies us of a potential stroke patient—or when someone with stroke symptoms arrives directly at our hospital—we call it a Stroke Alert. That's our well-established and highly integrated process for fast response, diagnosis and treatment of stroke.

Calling a Stroke Alert starts the process of delivering rapid treatment within the critical first three hours of a stroke and improves your chances of a more thorough recovery.

If you call 911 and you're identified as a stroke patient by EMS, our continuous treatment begins before you even get to the hospital—greatly improving the care you receive across our continuum of services.

We are the only hospital on the Seacoast to offer endovascular thrombectomy, or stent retriever, a life-saving procedure.

Our stroke care program offers a range of medical and surgical interventions, as well as rehabilitation services for people who may have experienced:

  • Ischemic stroke—Loss of blood flow to the brain, resulting from a clot-blocked artery
  • Hemorrhagic stroke—Bleeding into the brain, resulting from a ruptured artery in the brain
  • Transient ischemic attack (TIA)—A brief episode from a temporary blood clot that starts as a stroke but resolves itself without noticeable symptoms

Stroke and Brain Aneurysm Clinic

Up to 6 percent of the population of the United States may be living with an unruptured aneurysm, while an estimated 30,000 people will experience a ruptured cerebral aneurysm in the next year. Of these, 40 to 50 percent of those with a ruptured aneurysm will survive, with only 20 percent of these patients having no permanent damage.

The key to overcoming an aneurysm is early detection and interventional treatments. Portsmouth Regional Hospital’s Stroke and Brain Aneurysm Clinic integrates a multidisciplinary team of neurologists, neurosurgeons, neuro-radiologists and rehabilitation specialists who provide expert diagnosis and cutting-edge medical, endovascular and surgical management of all cerebrovascular conditions. We are dedicated to providing comprehensive, well-coordinated and compassionate care that offers the best outcome for our patients.

Treatment Options:

  • Screening. Imaging study of the brain arteries for patients with family history of brain aneurysm
  • Coil embolization. A catheter is threaded through the groin into an artery and placing coils into the dome of the brain aneurysm.
  • Pipeline flow diversion. A pipeline stent is inserted inside to reconstruct a new wall for the artery so blood cannot fill it.
  • Mechanical thrombectomy. Endovascular treatment to remove a stroke-causing blood clot from the brain.

Carotid and vertebral artery stenting

An alternative to surgery, stenting restores or enhances blood flow through narrowed arteries to prevent and reduce the risk of a potentially life-threatening stroke.

Having this specialized expertise in a single place means that care and treatment is discussed among the team, test results are available quickly, appointments are scheduled in coordination and highly specialized blood vessel and brain experts are all working together to determine what's best for your patient.

Stroke risk factors

Meaningful lifestyle changes and good medical care are the first steps in reducing your chance of stroke. Take charge of your brain health by focusing on positive lifestyle changes you can make in many areas.

  • Blood pressure—as the leading cause of stroke, high blood pressure is also the most controllable. You can keep your blood pressure within an optimal range by eating a well-balanced diet, staying active, maintaining a healthy weight, using alcohol in moderation and, if needed, adding medication.
  • Cigarette smoking—if you smoke, quit. If you haven't started, don't. Nicotine and carbon monoxide from cigarette smoke damages the heart and the body's network of blood vessels.
  • Diabetes—people with diabetes often have additional stroke-risk factors, including high blood pressure, high cholesterol and excess weight. Reduce your risk by exercising regularly, maintaining a healthy weight, using alcohol in moderation and eating a well-balanced diet that limits sugar, adds fiber and green, leafy vegetables and avoids fatty foods.
  • Diet and nutrition (reducing salt/sodium intake)—a diet high in saturated fat, trans fat and cholesterol can raise your cholesterol levels. With too much LDL (bad) cholesterol circulating in your blood, plaque can buildup inside the walls of arteries that feed both the heart and brain, which increases your risk for heart attack and stroke.
  • Activity and exercise—when you're inactive, obese or both, you increase your risk of high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, heart disease and stroke. Guidelines from AHA recommend at least 30 minutes of activity on most or all days. Exercise can be as simple as parking your car farthest from the office or store entrance and taking stairs instead of elevators. Healthy activity can be easy and affordable.

The better you manage the controllable risk factors for stroke, the greater positive impact you can have on things you can't change, like age, heredity/genetics, gender or having a previous stroke, TIA or heart attack.

Other manageable health conditions that can lead to stroke include:

  • Carotid artery disease
  • Peripheral artery disease
  • Atrial fibrillation (A-Fib)
  • Other heart diseases

Stroke rehabilitation and recovery

After your stroke, we partner with you on the road to recovery. Your next step may be to return home, continue follow-up care at a nearby inpatient rehab facility or participate in our outpatient Neuro Day Rehabilitation program. Our stroke rehabilitation services include individualized physical, occupational and speech-language therapy, all enhanced by the latest technology to help you regain balance, endurance, skills and independence.