Stroke: What You Need to Know

Stroke is the fifth leading cause of death and the number 1 cause of adult disability. Approximately 800,000 events occur in the United States each year. The brain needs a constant supply of blood, which carries oxygen and nutrients it needs to function. A stroke occurs when one of the arteries that supply blood to the brain becomes blocked or bursts.  As a result, part of the brain does not get the blood it needs, so it starts to die. This can cause problems with walking, speaking, seeing or feeling.

Signs & Symptoms of Stroke

Stroke is a brain attack and should be treated as an emergency! Learn to recognize the signs and symptoms of stroke to protect you and your loved ones. Signs and symptoms may include:

  • Sudden numbness or weakness of the face, arm or leg; especially on one side of the body.
  • Sudden confusion, trouble speaking or understanding words.
  • Sudden blurred vision or trouble seeing in one or both eyes.
  • Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination.
  • Sudden severe headache with no known cause.

During a Stroke…Think FAST:

Face: Ask the person to smile. Does one side of their face droop?
Arm: Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm drift downward?
Speech: Ask the person to say a simple sentence. Does their speech sound slurred or strange?
Time: Time is IMPORTANT and every second counts, call 9-11 immediately!

Types of Stroke

Transient Ischemic Attack (TIA)

When an artery in the brain becomes blocked for a short period of time, it is called a Transient Ischemic Attack (TIA) or “mini stroke”. It is common for these symptoms to last for a very short period of time from minutes to hours and then disappear causing no permanent damage. These are serious warning signs and should not be ignored.

Ischemic Stroke

Ischemic Stroke or a “clot stroke” is the most common type and occurs when a clot blocks blood flow to the brain. Brain cells begin to die if blood flow is not returned. Treatment may include the use of a drug called Activase. It is a tissue plasminogen activator (t-PA) and more commonly called the ‘clot buster’ medication. This is the only FDA approved medication to treat acute ischemic stroke. It must be given within three hours of the start of stroke symptoms. If given promptly, t-PA can resolve or even improve stroke symptoms. That is why rapid recognition of symptoms and seeking urgent medical attention is important.

Hemorrhagic Stroke

Hemorrhagic Stroke is usually referred to as a “bleeding stroke” and occurs when an artery bursts causing bleeding in or around the brain. Immediate treatment is needed to prevent long-lasting disabilities or even death.

Click here to view the National Stroke Association’s ‘Explaining Stroke’ brochure.