What is a Stroke?

While the term is often used, many people wonder, "What is a stroke?" Stroke is a type of cardiovascular disease. It affects the arteries leading to and within the brain. A stroke occurs when a blood vessel that carries oxygen and nutrients to the brain is either blocked by a clot or bursts. When that happens, part of the brain cannot get the blood (and oxygen) it needs, so it starts to die.

Types of Stroke
Even those who know what is a stroke may not realize there is more one type. Stroke can be caused either by a clot obstructing the flow of blood to the brain (ischemic strokes) or by a blood vessel rupturing and preventing blood flow to the brain (Hemorrhagic or bleeding strokes).
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Diagnosis of Stroke
When someone has shown symptoms of a stroke or a TIA (transient ischemic attack), a doctor will gather information and make a diagnosis. A doctor may use many different tests. The ones listed here are just some of the more common options.
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Impact of stroke
Stroke is the No. 5 cause of death in the United States, behind diseases of the heart and cancer.
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Warning Signs Prior to a Stroke
Prior to a stroke, many people experience a TIA (transient ischemic attack). This is a "mini-stroke" or "warning stroke." TIAs can occur days, weeks or even months before a major stroke. TIAs occur when a blood clot temporarily clogs an artery, and part of the brain doesn't get the blood it needs. The warning signs are the same as for stroke; but they occur and disappear relatively quickly, usually in less than five minutes.

Unlike a stroke, when a TIA occurs, the blood clot resolves itself and there's no permanent injury. When a stroke occurs and part of your brain dies from lack of blood flow, the part of the body it controls is affected. Strokes can cause paralysis, affect language and vision, and cause other problems.

Acute and Preventative Treatments of Stroke
Because their mechanisms are different, the treatments for the types of stroke are different.
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What Are the Effects of Stroke?
The brain is an extremely complex organ that controls various body functions. If a stroke occurs and blood flow can't reach the region that controls a particular body function, that part of the body won't work as it should.
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Stroke Survivor Stories
Read about stroke survivors and their stories. Be inspired by these great examples of the power to end stroke!