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Stroke FAQs

Reviewed by Charles P. Davis, MD, PhD

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Q:A stroke occurs when a blood vessel in the brain is blocked, leaks, or bursts. True or False?

A:True. A stroke occurs when a blood vessel in the brain is blocked, leaks or bursts. Without blood and the oxygen it carries, part of the brain begins to die. The part of the body controlled by the damaged area of the brain can't function properly. An ischemic stroke occurs when a blood vessel is blocked by a blood clot in the brain. With a hemorrhagic stroke, there is bleeding into the brain tissue.

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Q:What is the major risk factor for stroke?

A:High blood pressure. The risk of stroke varies directly with the blood pressure. As blood pressure rises, so does the risk of stroke. The role of hypertension as a risk factor for stroke is further magnified by how common it is. Close to one in three adults in America has hypertension.

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Q:Strokes rarely occur in people under 65. True or False?

A:False. A stroke can happen to anyone. However, the older you are, the higher your risk. Still, nearly one-quarter of strokes occur in people under the age of 65. The chance of having a stroke approximately doubles for each decade of life after age 55.

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Q:Who is more likely to die from a stroke? Men or Women?

A:Women. Because women live longer than men, more women than men die of stroke each year. Women tend to have strokes when they're older and are more likely to die. Men are more likely to have strokes at younger ages, so their survival rate is higher.

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Q:A sudden, severe headache could be a symptom of a stroke. True or False?

A:True. A sudden, severe headache could be a symptom of a stroke. Additionally, four more sudden symptoms are major signs of stroke: Sudden numbness or weakness of the face, arms or leg, especially on one side of the body; sudden confusion, trouble speaking or understanding; sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination, and/or sudden problems seeing in one or both eyes.

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Q:Where does stroke rank in the leading causes of death in the United States?

A:Third. Stroke is the third leading cause of death in the United States. The top 10 leading causes of death in the United States are: heart disease, cancer, stroke, chronic lower respiratory diseases, accidents, Alzheimer's disease, diabetes, influenza and pneumonia, nephritis, nephritic syndrome and nephrosis (kidney diseases), and sepsis.

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Q:What region in the United States has the highest death rate from stroke?

A:Southeastern region. The country's highest death rates due to stroke are in the southeastern United States.

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Q:A stroke is not necessarily an emergency. True or False?

A:False. A stroke is an absolute emergency. Immediate medical attention is necessary for symptoms that appear to be a stroke, even if the symptoms disappear quickly.
Note: Patients who arrive at the emergency room within three hours of their first symptoms tend to be healthier three months after stroke than those who delayed care.

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Q:What is the most common treatment for stroke?

A:Blood thinners. Drug therapy with blood thinners is the most common treatment for stroke.

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Q:Blood supply to the brain that is briefly interrupted describes what?

A:Mini stroke (transient ischemic attack or TIA). "Mini-strokes" (often referred to as silent strokes) or transient ischemic attacks (TIAs) occur when the blood supply to the brain is briefly interrupted.

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Q:What is another term for stroke?

A:Brain attack. Stroke is also referred to as a "cerebrovascular accident" (CVA) or a "brain attack."

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Q:What condition and stroke can occur together, or in very close proximity?

A:Heart attack. It is not unusual for a stroke and heart attack to occur at the same time or in very close proximity to each other.

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