Sunday, July 13, 2014

Really, What IS a stroke?

I am on the board of the Idaho chapter of the American Heart and Stroke Association. It is common that people know someone who had a stroke. Maybe, an old cousin or a friend of a friend.

Before my strokes, I had a vague concept of a stroke. Old people who did not take care of themselves?
However, now I know the truth about strokes.  
Here is some information about strokes from the American Heart and Stroke Association:
  • Stroke is the fourth leading cause of death in America and a leading cause of adult disability.
  • Up to 80% of strokes are preventable; you can prevent a stroke!
What is a stroke?

A stroke or "brain attack" occurs when a blood clot blocks an artery (a blood vessel that carries blood from the heart to the body) or a blood vessel (a tube through which the blood moves through the body) breaks, interrupting blood flow to an area of the brain.  When either of these things happens, brain cells begin to die and brain damage occurs.

When brain cells die during a stroke, abilities controlled by that area of the brain are lost.  These abilities include speech, movement and memory.  How a stroke patient is affected depends on where the stroke occurs in the brain and how much the brain is damaged.

For example, someone who has a small stroke may experience only minor problems such as weakness of an arm or leg.  People who have larger strokes may be paralyzed on one side or lose their ability to speak.  Some people recover completely from strokes, but more than 2/3 of survivors will have some type of disability.

Stroke 101

Download National Stroke Association's Stroke 101 Fact sheet for more information.

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