What is a Stroke?

Stroke is the third leading cause of death in the United States and is often known as the brain equivalent of a heart attack. It is a cerebrovascular disease that occurs when the flow of blood does not fully reach the nerve cells of the brain. A stroke causes more serious, long-term disability for adults than any other disease. That’s why seeing the early signs of a stroke can mean the difference between life, death or rehabilitation for a victim.

There are different types of stroke:

  • Ischemic strokes involve blood clots that block arteries in the brain depriving them of oxygen. Up to 85 percent of strokes are ischemic.
  • Hemorrhagic strokes account for about 17 percent of strokes. They result from a weakened blood vessel that ruptures and bleeds into the surrounding brain. Long-term high blood pressure can weaken blood vessels in the brain and eventually cause this type of stroke.
  • Transient Ischemic Attacks (TIAs) are minor or warning strokes that last only for a few minutes or hours. They increase stroke risk 10 times. They are a medical emergency and should never be ignored.

The longer blood flow is cut off to the brain, the greater the damage. So it's important to call 911 and get to the Emergency Care Center at the first sign of symptoms to prevent, reverse or minimize brain injury with early treatment.

Warning Signs
Learn the symptoms of stroke and act F.A.S.T.

  • 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 these signs, call 911 immediately.

According to the American Stroke Association, the following symptoms may also indicate stroke.

  • Sudden numbness or weakness of the leg, arm or face
  • Sudden confusion or trouble understanding
  • Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes
  • Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination
  • Sudden severe headache with no known cause