What is a stroke?

A stroke, commonly known as a “brain attack,” occurs when a blood vessel that carries oxygen and nutrients to the brain is either blocked by a clot or bursts (or ruptures). When this occurs, brain cells are deprived of oxygen and begin to die. When brain cells die during a stroke, abilities controlled by that area of the brain, such as memory and muscle control, are lost. How a person is affected by a stroke depends on the severity and the location of the brain where the injury occurs.

Stroke by the Numbers

  • Nearly 800,000 people per year experience a new or recurrent stroke.
  • Every 40 seconds, a stroke occurs.
  • Stroke is the fifth leading cause of death in the United States.
  • Stroke is the leading cause of long-term adult disability in the United States.
  • Up to 80 percent of strokes can be prevented.

2 Types of Strokes

  • Ischemic Strokes – These are strokes caused by blood clots where the blood clogs the vessel causing it to become very narrow, or even completely block the flow of blood to the brain. Making up 70 to 80 percent all strokes, ischemic strokes are the most common type.
  • Hemorrhagic – These are strokes cause by a blood vessel rupture, causing bleeding in or near the brain. Hemorrhagic strokes are a bit less common than ischemic strokes, occurring in only 15 to 20 percent of stroke patients.

What is a Transient Ischemic Attack (TIA)?

A transient ischemic attack (TIA) is when blood flow to part of the brain stops for short periods of time. TIAs can mimic stroke-like symptoms and last less than 24 hours before disappearing. TIAs themselves do not cause permanent brain injury, but they are serious warning signs of that a stroke may happen in the future. TIAs should not be ignored.

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