A stroke is an alteration, usually acute, in brain function due to injured or killed brain cells. The alterations result in changes in a person's ability to function normally. For example, a person may not be able to speak or move an arm or leg. The majority of strokes are caused by reducing or stopping the blood supply to brain cells. Stroke is sometimes termed a brain attack or a cardiovascular accident (CVA). It is much like a heart attack, only it occurs in the brain. Like a heart attack, stroke is a medical emergency. Do not wait or hesitate to call for emergency medical help. If a stroke is suspected in an individual, fast treatment has the potential to make a big difference in outcome.
Call 9-1-1 for stroke
When the blood supply to a part of the brain is cut off or greatly decreased, a stroke occurs. If the blood supply is cut off for several hours or more, the brain cells, without enough blood supply, die.
Depending upon the amount of blood involved and location of the stroke area in the brain, a person having a stroke can show many signs and symptoms. These can range from barely noticeable difficulties in moving or speaking to paralysis or death.
Over the last 15 years stroke care has changed dramatically due to the availability of new drugs as well as improved diagnostic and treatment modalities. Nowadays, treatments for the acute event, while it is happening, are available which makes recognizing strokes and getting immediate care critically important.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 3/17/2015
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