What is Stroke?

Strokes, also known as “brain attacks,” occur when there is a disruption of the blood supply to the brain. This can happen when a blood clot blocks an artery (a blood vessel that carries blood from the heart to the body) or when a blood vessel (a tube through which blood moves through the body) breaks. When either of these things happens, brain cells begin to die because they are no longer receiving oxygen from the circulating blood supply (Ischemic Stroke) or because they are damaged due to bleeding (Hemorrhagic Stroke).

When brain cells die during a Stroke, the abilities controlled by that area of the brain—such as speech, movement and memory—are lost. 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 two-thirds of survivors will have some type of disability.

Click here for information on Stroke signs and symptoms.

Types of Stroke

  • Ischemic Stroke: Blood clots block arteries and cut off blood flow, a process called ischemia. An Ischemic Stroke can occur in two ways: embolic and thrombotic.
    • Embolic: A blood clot forms somewhere in the body (usually the heart) and travels through the bloodstream to your brain.
    • Thrombotic: Blood flow is impaired because of a blockage to one or more of the arteries supplying blood to the brain.
  • Hemorrhagic Stroke: Strokes caused by the breakage or "blowout" of a blood vessel in the brain are called Hemorrhagic Strokes. Hemorrhages can be caused by disorders that affect the blood vessels, including long-standing high blood pressure and cerebral aneurysms (a weak or thin spot on a blood vessel wall).

The Facts about Stroke

Myth: Stroke is not preventable.

Fact: Stroke is highly preventable through regular health screenings.

Myth: Stroke only happens to the elderly.

Reality: Stroke can happen to anyone — male or female, young or old.

Myth: Stroke cannot be treated.

Reality: Stroke can be treated for a more enjoyable life.


If you or a loved one are experiencing Stroke symptoms, call 911 and get to the hospital IMMEDIATELY! Treatments are available that may dramatically reduce a Stroke’s devastating effects—but they must be provided within a few hours of the onset of a Stroke.