Our brains need a constant supply of healthy, oxygen-rich blood. If blood cannot flow freely into your brain or if there is bleeding inside your brain, you can experience a stroke.
Strokes are dangerous because cutting off blood to any part of the brain causes brain cells to die or become damaged. Without its precious cells, the brain cannot keep our bodies functioning properly. For example, if brain cells die in the area of your brain that controls speech, you may have difficulty speaking. Other functions strokes can affect include:
- Communication and understanding
Strokes are serious conditions that always require immediate, emergency care. The faster you receive treatment for a stroke, the more likely you are to recover from its effects.
- North Carolina is one of 11 Southeast states in the "stroke belt,'' where for unknown reasons, stroke is more prevalent.
- Stroke is the fourth-leading cause of death in the U.S. and the leading cause of serious, long-term disability.
- The risk of having a stroke more than doubles each decade after age 55; nearly three-quarters of all strokes occur in people older than 65.
- High blood pressure is the most important risk factor for stroke.
- Stroke death rates are higher for African-Americans than for whites.
- FAST is a diagnostic acronym to spot the symptoms of a stroke. F is for face drooping, A is for arm weakness, S is for speech slurred; T means it is time to call 911 upon appearance of any of the three key symptoms.
Source: American Stroke Association
Types of Strokes
There are 2 primary types of strokes:
Mini-Stroke, or TIA
A mini-stroke, also called a transient ischemic attack (TIA), occurs when blood flow to the brain suddenly stops for a short time, causing stroke-like symptoms. These symptoms, which can last anywhere from a few minutes up to two hours, include:
- Lack of sensation on one part of the body
- Lack of muscle control on one part of the body
- Vision difficulties
- Speech or communication difficulties
Like any other stroke, a TIA requires immediate emergency care. Having a TIA puts you at greater risk of experiencing a full-blown stroke.