What is a Stroke

A stroke is a “brain attack”. It occurs when a blood vessel in the brain is blocked by a blood clot (ischemic stroke) or a blood vessel ruptures (hemorrhagic stroke).

  • Ischemic stroke is the most common type of stroke, accounting for 87 percent of all cases. A warning stroke or “mini stroke” is called a transient ischemic attack (TIA). This type of stroke is a temporary clot but should be taken very seriously.
  • Hemorrhagic stroke, which accounts for 13 percent of all stroke cases, is most often caused by a cerebral (brain) aneurysm. A cerebral aneurysm is a ballooning of a weakened region of a blood vessel.

The brain needs a constant supply of oxygen and nutrients in order to function. Even a brief interruption in blood supply can lead to a loss of brain function. This may include impaired ability with movement, speech, thinking and memory, bowel and bladder, eating, emotional control and other vital body functions.

A stroke is an emergency and should be treated as such. The greatest treatment options are available within three hours of symptom onset. Other options are still available up to eight hours, depending on the type of stroke. Time lost is brain lost.

Check out Stroke 101: Fast Facts on Stroke

What are the symptoms?

  • Weakness or numbness of the face, arm, or leg, especially on one side of the body
  • Confusion or difficulty speaking or understanding
  • Problems with vision such as dimness or loss of vision in one or both eyes
  • Dizziness or problems with balance or coordination
  • Problems with movement or walking
  • Severe headaches with no other known cause

What is BE FAST?

BE FAST is an easy way to remember the sudden signs of stroke. When you can spot the signs, you'll know that you need to call 9-1-1 for help right away.



Balance  Is there a sudden loss of balance or coordination?

Eyes  Is there double vision or sudden loss of vision in one or both eyes?

Face Drooping – Does one side of the face droop or is it numb? Ask the person to smile. Is the person's smile uneven?

  Arm Weakness – Is one arm weak or numb? Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm drift downward?
  Speech Difficulty – Is speech slurred? Is the person unable to speak or hard to understand? Ask the person to repeat a simple sentence, like "The sky is blue." Is the sentence repeated correctly?
  Time to call 9-1-1 – If someone shows any of these symptoms, even if the symptoms go away, call 9-1-1 and get the person to the hospital immediately. Check the time so you'll know when the first symptoms appeared.