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Term / Stroke

A stroke is the interruption of blood flow to your brain that causes brain cells to die. There are two kinds of stroke. The more common kind, called ischemic stroke, is caused by a blood clot that blocks or plugs a blood vessel in the brain. The other kind, called hemorrhagic stroke, is caused by a blood vessel that breaks and bleeds into the brain. “Mini-strokes,” or transient ischemic attacks (TIAs), occur when the blood supply to the brain is only briefly interrupted.

Symptoms of stroke are:

  • Sudden numbness or weakness of the face, arm or leg (especially on one side of the body)
  • Sudden confusion, trouble speaking or understanding speech
  • Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes
  • Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination
  • Sudden severe headache with no known cause.

An estimated 780,000 strokes occur each year in the United States. It is the third leading cause of death and the cause of more serious long-term disability than any other disease or condition. Nearly three-quarters of all strokes occur in people over the age of 65; the risk of having a stroke more than doubles each decade after the age of 55.

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