What Is a Stroke?

Stroke is a medical emergency and a leading cause of death. It occurs when a blood vessel in the brain bursts or, more commonly, when a blockage develops. Without treatment, cells in the brain quickly begin to die. The result can be serious disability or death. If a loved one is having stroke symptoms, seek emergency medical attention without delay.

Stroke Symptoms
Signs of a stroke may include:

  •     Sudden numbness or weakness of the body, especially on one side.
  •     Sudden vision changes in one or both eyes, or difficulty swallowing.
  •     Sudden, severe headache with unknown cause.
  •     Sudden problems with dizziness, walking, or balance.
  •     Sudden confusion, difficulty speaking or understanding others.

Stroke Test: Talk, Wave, Smile

The F.A.S.T. test helps spot symptoms. It stands for:

Face. Ask for a smile. Does one side droop?

Arms. When raised, does one side drift down?

Speech. Can the person repeat a simple sentence? Does he or she have trouble or slur words?

Time. Time is critical. Call 911 immediately if any symptoms are present.

Stroke: Time = Brain Damage

Every second counts when seeking treatment for a stroke. When deprived of oxygen, brain cells begin dying within minutes. There are clot-busting drugs that can curb brain damage, but they have to be used within three hours of the initial stroke symptoms. Once brain tissue has died, the body parts controlled by that area won’t work properly. This is why stroke is a top cause of long-term disability.

Watch the slide show, find out what you need to know