A stroke is sometimes called a ‘brain attack,’ and happens when blood stops flowing to the brain. When blood stops flowing to the brain, brain cells start to die because they’re not getting enough oxygen. This can cause the permanent loss of function in certain parts of your body (depending on where in the brain the cells died).


Types of Stroke

Ischemic Stroke: caused by a blood clot in the brain

When blood stops flowing to the brain, that part of the brain isn’t able to function. About 80% of strokes are ischemic strokes. 

Hemorrhagic Stroke: caused by a blood vessel that bursts in the brain

When a blood vessel bursts in the brain, blood leaks into the brain causing swelling which puts pressure on the surrounding brain tissue. The swelling and pressure disrupts brain function and can damage brain tissue

In some cases, individuals experience a ‘warning stroke,’ which is a temporary blockage of blood flow to the brain, so symptoms go away on their own, often after just a few minutes. This is a transient ischemic attack, or TIA, which is sometimes referred to as a ‘mini stroke’ but more appropriately referred to as a ‘warning stroke.’ Warning strokes provide the opportunity to start treatment to prevent a future stroke. It’s very important to seek medical care immediately and call 9-1-1.

Risk Factors

Although strokes can happen to anyone, there are certain things that can increase your risk for a stroke.

Risks you can control, treat, and improve:

  • High blood pressure
  • Smoking
  • Diabetes
  • High cholesterol
  • Atrial fibrillation
  • Heart disease
  • Diet
  • Physical inactivity
  • Obesity
  • Heavy Alcohol Use

Risks you cannot control but should be aware of:

  • Age: risk of stroke increases with age
  • Gender: men are more likely to have a stroke, but women are twice as likely to die from a stroke
  • Race: African-Americans are 1.4 times more likely to die of a stroke than Caucasians
  • Family history of stroke
  • If you’ve had a stroke before
  • If you’ve had a ‘warning stroke’ (transient ischemic attack) before
  • If you’ve had a heart attack before

Symptoms & Warning Signs

Symptoms of stroke include:
  • Sudden weakness or numbness 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

If you think someone is having a stroke, BE FAST.

alance Eyes Face Arms Speech Time

Note when the symptoms first started and tell the emergency responders.