Strokes, or brain attacks, are a major cause of death and permanent disability. They occur when blood flow to a region of the brain is obstructed and may result in death of brain tissue.
There are two main types of stroke, ischemic and hemorrhagic.
Ischemic stroke is caused by blockage in an artery that supplies blood to the brain, resulting in a deficiency in blood flow (ischemia).
Hemorrhagic stroke is caused by the bleeding of ruptured blood vessels (hemorrhage) in the brain.
During ischemic stroke, diminished blood flow initiates a series of events (called ischemic cascade) that may result in additional, delayed damage to brain cells. Early medical intervention can halt this process and reduce the risk for irreversible complications.
Warning Signs of Stroke
Strokes, or brain attacks, are medical emergencies that require immediate medical attention. The American Stroke Association has identified several warning signs of a stroke, or brain attack. Remember
that someone having a stroke may not experience all of the warning
signs and that warning signs can come and go. Anyone having these
symptoms should seek prompt medical attention. The sooner treatment
begins, the more effective it is.
Warning signs of stroke include the following:
- Sudden numbness or weakness, especially on one side of the body
- Sudden confusion
- Sudden vision problems in one or both eyes
- Sudden difficulty walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination
- Sudden, severe headache with no known cause
- Sudden difficulty speaking or understanding speech
Incidence and Prevalence
Stroke is the third leading cause of death and the leading cause of disability in the United States. Approximately 600,000 strokes, or brain attacks, occur in the United States each year and of these, approximately 150,000 (25%) are fatal. The incidence of stroke is higher in African Americans than Caucasians.
For more information regarding strokes, continue to the following pages: