- A stroke, sometimes called a brain attack, occurs when something blocks blood supply to part of the brain or when a blood vessel in the brain bursts, causing parts of the brain to become damaged or die.
- During a stroke, brain cells die immediately due to lack of oxygen after the interruption of brain flow.
- Sudden bleeding in the brain will also cause a stroke and eventual damage to brain cells.
- A stroke can cause lasting brain damage, long-term disability, or even death.
Types of strokes
If something happens to block the flow of blood, brain cells start to die within minutes because they can’t get oxygen. This causes a stroke.
There are two types of stroke:
- An ischemic stroke occurs when blood clots or other particles block the blood vessels to the brain. Fatty deposits called plaque can also cause blockages by building up in the blood vessels.
- A hemorrhagic stroke occurs when a blood vessel bursts in the brain. Blood builds up and damages surrounding brain tissue.
- Transient Ischemic Attack (“mini-stroke”) – a TIA is a warning sign of a future stroke and still considered a medical emergency.
Both types of stroke damage brain cells. Symptoms of that damage start to show in the parts of the body controlled by those brain cells.
- Anyone, including children can have a stroke
- Age, sex and ethnicity can increase your risk for stroke
- Unhealthy habits such as smoking, drinking too much alcohol and not exercising
- High cholesterol, high blood pressure or diabetes
- Sudden numbness or weakness in the face, arm, or leg, especially on one side of the body
- Sudden confusion, trouble speaking, or difficulty understanding speech
- Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes
- Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance, or lack of coordination
- Sudden severe headache with no known cause
*Call 9-1-1 right away if you or someone else has any of these symptoms.
The stroke treatments that work best are available only if the stroke is recognized and diagnosed within 3 hours of the first symptoms. Stroke patients may not be eligible for these if they don’t arrive at the hospital in time.
If you think someone may be having a stroke, act F.A.S.T. and do the following simple test:
F—Face: Ask the person to smile. Does one side of the face droop?
A—Arms: Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm drift downward?
S—Speech: Ask the person to repeat a simple phrase. Is the speech slurred or strange?
T—Time: If you see any of these signs, call 9-1-1 right away.
*Note the time when any symptoms first appear. This information helps health care providers determine the best treatment for each person.
- Eat a healthy diet
- Maintain a healthy weight
- Do physical exercise and be active
- Don’t smoke
- Limit alcohol use
- Prevent or treat other health conditions such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes