A stroke occurs when blood flow to part of the brain is interrupted. A stroke is sometimes called a “brain attack” because of its similarities to a “heart attack.” Both conditions may have similar causes and risk factors. A stroke is an emergency. Within a few minutes, brain cells in the brain begin to die. The result of a stroke is that that part of the brain can't send its messages to the body. Functions that can be affected: physical movement of the body (arms, legs), speech, and memory, depending on what part of the brain is affected. (See hemorrhagic stroke, thrombotic stroke).
If you or anyone you know experiences any of these symptoms, call 911 immediately! The faster you get help, the less brain damage may occur and the more complete the recovery may be.
- weakness, numbness, or paralysis in the face, arm, or leg—especially on one side of the body
- sudden blurred vision or loss of vision in one or both eyes
- inability to speak clearly or understand simple statements
- loss of balance or coordination, especially when combined with another of these symptoms
- sudden severe headache—"the worst headache of my life"