A stroke is a medical emergency that occurs when the blood supply to a part of the brain is interrupted or reduced, preventing brain tissue from getting the oxygen and nutrients it needs. Brain cells begin to die within minutes. There are two main types of strokes:

  1. Ischemic Stroke: This is the most common type, accounting for about 87% of all strokes. It occurs when a blood clot blocks or narrows an artery leading to the brain. The clot can form in the artery itself (thrombotic stroke) or travel from another part of the body (embolic stroke).

  2. Hemorrhagic Stroke: This type occurs when a blood vessel in the brain bursts, leading to bleeding (hemorrhage) in or around the brain. Hemorrhagic strokes can be caused by conditions such as high blood pressure, aneurysms, or arteriovenous malformations (AVMs).

There is also a related condition known as a Transient Ischemic Attack (TIA), often called a mini-stroke. TIAs occur when the blood supply to the brain is temporarily interrupted. While TIAs do not cause permanent damage, they are serious warning signs of a potential future stroke.

Symptoms of a Stroke:

  • Sudden numbness or weakness in the face, arm, or leg, especially on one side of the body.
  • Sudden confusion, trouble speaking, or understanding speech.
  • Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes.
  • Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance, or coordination.
  • Sudden severe headache with no known cause.

Risk Factors:

  • High blood pressure
  • Smoking
  • Diabetes
  • High cholesterol
  • Obesity
  • Physical inactivity
  • Heart disease
  • Family history of stroke
  • Age (risk increases with age)
  • Gender (women have a higher risk of stroke than men)
  • Race (African Americans have a higher risk of stroke than other races)


  • Ischemic Stroke: Treatment focuses on restoring blood flow to the brain. This can involve medications such as tissue plasminogen activator (tPA) to dissolve clots, or procedures like mechanical thrombectomy to remove the clot.
  • Hemorrhagic Stroke: Treatment aims to control bleeding and reduce pressure in the brain. This can involve medications, surgical interventions, and other supportive measures.


  • Controlling high blood pressure
  • Quitting smoking
  • Managing diabetes
  • Maintaining a healthy weight
  • Eating a balanced diet
  • Exercising regularly
  • Reducing cholesterol levels
  • Limiting alcohol consumption

Early recognition and treatment are crucial in minimizing the damage caused by a stroke and improving outcomes for recovery. The acronym FAST (Face drooping, Arm weakness, Speech difficulty, Time to call emergency services) is often used to help people remember the warning signs and take quick action.

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