A stroke (cerebrovascular accident) is a serious yet common affliction. If a stroke is caught quickly, the individual has a much higher chance of life. However, if a stroke is not caught swiftly it can lead to death. Strokes are the third most common type of death in the United States and the highest cause of disability. A stroke occurs when the brain is deprived of blood due to a blocked blood artery. After a few short minutes with no blood, the brain is affected permanently. A stroke is often referred to as a brain attack because it has many similarities to a heart attack.
There are two primary types of strokes. The first is when too little blood is present to supply the brain with oxygen (ischemic stroke). This is the most common type of stroke and occurs when an individual suffers from a blood clot or another particle blocks the artery. The blockage of the artery causes a reduced blood flow to the brain killing brain cells and thus a stroke. The second type of stroke is when too much blood is present in the skull (hemorrhagic stroke). This is caused most often by a ruptured or leaking blood vessel. A weakened blood vessel often occurs from high blood pressure or weakened spots in the vessel walls. Once these arteries burst, blood flows rapidly into the skull putting pressure on the brain.
Recognizing the signs of a stroke is imperative to the person suffering. If medical treatment is sought quickly, the affected person is more likely to survive. Symptoms arise quickly and are severe. Symptoms often include:
- Soreness, numbness, or paralysis often on one side of a person’s body
- Sudden change in the ability to speak
- Sudden dizziness
- Sudden and severe headache
- Sudden change in vision
- Nausea, vomiting, stiff neck, or facial pain
- Sudden changes in memory