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What is a Stroke?

Categories: Living with Brain Injury, Public Awareness

What is a stroke?

A stroke, sometimes called a brain attack, occurs when something blocks the blood supply to part of the brain or when a blood vessel in the brain bursts. In either case, parts of the brain become damaged or die. A stroke can cause lasting brain damage, long-term disability, or even death.

What are the types of stroke?

  • Ischemic Stroke: Most strokes (87%) are ischemic strokes. An ischemic stroke happens when blood flow through the artery that supplies oxygen-rich blood to the brain becomes blocked. Blood clots often cause the blockages that lead to ischemic strokes.
  • Hemorrhagic Stroke: A hemorrhagic stroke happens when an artery in the brain leaks blood or ruptures (breaks open). The leaked blood puts too much pressure on brain cells, which damages them. High blood pressure and aneurysms – balloon-like bulges in an artery that can stretch and burst – are examples of conditions that can cause a hemorrhagic stroke.
  • Transient Ischemic Attack (TIA): A TIA is sometimes called a “mini-stroke.” It is different from the major types of stroke because blood flow to the brain is blocked for only a short time—usually no more than 5 minutes.

To learn more about the types of stroke, click here.

What are stroke signs and symptoms?

During a stroke, every minute counts! Fast treatment can lessen the brain damage that strokes can cause. Remember BE FAST to recognize signs of stroke. If you think someone may be having a stroke, do the following simple test:

BEFAST Graphic Stroke Awareness Month

Other signs and symptoms of stroke include:

  • Numbness or weakness in the face, arm, or leg, especially on one side of the body
  • Confusion, trouble speaking, or difficulty understanding speech
  • Trouble seeing in one or both eyes
  • Trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance, or lack of coordination
  • Severe headache with no known cause
  • Difficulty understanding or unable to comprehend speech or language
  • Dizziness, feeling faint, lightheaded, or like the room is spinning

Who is at risk for stroke?

Anyone can have a stroke at any age, but certain things can increase your chances of having one. The best ways to protect yourself and your loved ones from a stroke are to understand your risk factors and how to minimize them. To learn more about your risk for stroke, click here.

How can I reduce my risk of stroke?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), you can help prevent stroke by making healthy choices and controlling any health conditions you may have. Healthy choices include choosing a healthy diet, participating in daily physical activity, avoiding smoking, and limiting alcohol intake. Health conditions that may put you at risk  of stroke include cholesterol, blood pressure, diabetes, and heart disease, so it’s best to treat those conditions with the help of your physician. To learn more about steps you can take to lower your risk of stroke, click here.

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The Brain Injury Association of America is celebrating 40 years of service to the brain injury community this year!

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