Stroke is a cardiovascular disease. It affects the blood vessels that supply blood to the brain.
A stroke occurs when a blood vessel that brings oxygen and nutrients to the brain bursts or is clogged by a blood clot or some other mass. Because of this rupture or blockage, part of the brain doesn't get the blood and oxygen it needs.
Deprived of oxygen, nerve cells in the affected area of the brain can't work and die within minutes. And when nerve cells can't work, the part of the body they control can't work either. The devastating effects of a severe stroke are often permanent because dead brain cells aren't replaced.
Stroke Warning Signs
- If you're with someone who may be having stroke symptoms, immediately call 9-1-1 or the EMS. Expect the person to protest — denial is common. Don't take "no" for an answer. Insist on taking prompt action.
- If you notice one or more of these signs, don't wait. Stroke is a medical emergency. Call 9-1-1 or your emergency medical services. Get to a hospital right away!
The American Stroke Association wants you to learn the warning signs of stroke:
- Sudden numbness or weakness of the face, arm or leg, especially on one side of the body
- Sudden confusion, trouble speaking or understanding
- Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes
- Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination
- Sudden, severe headache with no known cause
Be prepared for an emergency.
- Keep a list of emergency rescue service numbers next to the telephone and in your pocket, wallet or purse.
- Find out which area hospitals are primary stroke centers that have 24-hour emergency stroke care.
- Know (in advance) which hospital or medical facility is nearest your home or office.
Take action in an emergency.
- Not all the warning signs occur in every stroke. Don't ignore signs of stroke, even if they go away!
- Check the time. When did the first warning sign or symptom start? You'll be asked this important question later.
- If you have one or more stroke symptoms that last more than a few minutes, don't delay! Immediately call 9-1-1 or the emergency medical service (EMS) number so an ambulance (ideally with advanced life support) can quickly be sent for you.