What Is a Stroke?
A stroke – or brain attack – is a type of cerebrovascular disease
that affects the body's ability to carry blood to the brain. Learn
more about stroke below.
Stroke is a medical emergency. It is the leading cause of adult disability
and a leading cause of death in the United States.
Time is crucial! Prompt treatment of a stroke could mean the difference
between life and death. Early treatment can also minimize damage to your
brain and future disability. Time lost is brain lost, so getting a patient
to the hospital is critical when seconds and minutes count.
This page includes information about stroke signs and symptoms, the different
kinds of stroke, and the risk factors for stroke.
Stroke Signs & Symptoms
Other stroke symptoms may include:
- Sudden blurred, double or decreased vision
- Difficulty swallowing
- Confusion, or problems with memory, spatial orientation or perception
- Seizures, fainting or blacking out
- A sudden, severe headache or an unusual headache, which may include vomiting
or altered consciousness
If you see these signs, you should call 9-1-1 immediately.
Types of Stroke
In order to function, the brain needs a constant flow of blood which travels
through your arteries (also known as blood vessels). If the blood flow
is blocked and the brain cannot get the level of oxygen-rich blood it
needs, then the deprived area of the brain begins to die.
An ischemic stroke occurs when an artery in the brain is blocked. The most
common cause is narrowing of the arteries due to atherosclerosis (gradual
cholesterol deposits). When the arteries are narrowed, blood cells accumulate
and form blood clots (thrombosis). Another cause of stroke is a blood
clot in the heart (embolism) from irregular heartbeat (atrial fibrillation),
heart attack or abnormal heart valves.
An intracerebral hemorrhage occurs when there is bleeding within the brain
tissue. It is most often caused by high blood pressure which stresses
the artery walls causing it to burst and bleed to the surrounding brain tissue.
Subarachnoid hemorrhage is bleeding that occurs in the area between the
brain and the thin tissue layer that surrounds it. This is usually caused
by an aneurysm, which is a weak or thin spot on a blood vessel wall. Some
aneurysms are present at birth and others develop over a number of years
and are usually not detected until they burst.
Risk Factors for Stroke
Learn more about risk factors for stroke and what you can do to prevent