What is Stroke?

A stroke happens when blood flow to the brain stops. There are two different kinds of stroke. The most common is an ischemic stroke, caused by a blood clot that blocks a blood vessel or artery in the brain. The other, less common, is a hemorrhagic stroke, caused when a blood vessel in the brain ruptures and spills blood into the surrounding tissue. Brain cells in the area begin to die, either because they stop getting the oxygen and nutrients they need to function, or they are killed by the rupture of the vessel and sudden spill of blood.

The symptoms of stroke happen immediately:

If you or someone else has these symptoms, seek immediate medical assistance. The longer blood flow is cut off to the brain, the greater the potential for permanent damage.

Doctors diagnose stroke by performing a short neurological examination, as well as blood tests, CT scans, MRI scans, Doppler ultrasound, and arteriography, if needed.

Is there any treatment?

Ischemic strokes can be treated with a drug called t-PA that dissolves the clot or clots that are keeping blood from flowing to the brain. Because damaged brain cells can linger in a compromised but potentially viable state for several hours, the sooner treatment begins the better the chances of surviving without disabilities.

Stroke appears to run in some families who may either have a genetic mutation that predisposes them to stroke, or share a lifestyle that contributes to stroke risk factors. Other than genetic predisposition, additional risk factors for stroke are high blood pressure, heart disease, smoking, diabetes, and high cholesterol. Controlling these risk factors can decrease the likelihood of stroke.

What is the prognosis?

The effects of a stroke range from mild to severe depending on the type of stroke, area of the brain affected, and the extent of the damage. Those who have survived a stroke may experience paralysis, pain, or numbness, as well as problems with thinking and speaking, and emotional changes. Many individuals will require physical therapy to regain strength and mobility, and occupational therapy to relearn how to perform everyday activities, such as eating, dressing, using the bathroom, etc. Speech therapy is appropriate for those who have trouble reading, understanding speech, or forming language.
What can you do to prevent a stroke?

While family history of stroke plays a role in your risk, there are many risk factors you can control.


Every minute counts. The longer blood flow is cut off to the brain, the greater the damage. The most common kind of stroke, ischemic stroke, can be treated with a drug that dissolves clots blocking the blood flow. The window of opportunity to start treating stroke patients is three hours. But a person needs to be at the hospital within 60 minutes of having a stroke to be evaluated and receive treatment.



Disclaimer: This information is intended as a guide only.   This information is offered to you with the understanding that it not be interpreted as medical or professional advice.  All medical information needs to be carefully reviewed with your health care provider.


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