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Stroke: Symptoms and Treatments


Stroke chalkboard graphic

Stroke is the No. 5 cause of death and a leading cause of adult disability in the U.S. On average, someone in the U.S. suffers a stroke every 40 seconds and nearly 795,000 people suffer a new or recurrent stroke each year. (Source: American Heart Association/American Stroke Association)

What is a stroke?

An ischemic stroke happens when an artery in the brain is blocked by a blood clot causing diminished blood flow and oxygen to that area of the brain.

A hemorrhagic stroke occurs when a blood vessel bursts and causes bleeding in the brain. A brain aneurysm is a common cause of hemorrhagic stroke.

Watch: What is a stroke?

What are the signs and symptoms of a stroke?


BE-FAST Spot a Stroke


Remembering the acronym BE-FAST may help you recognize the signs and symptoms of stroke for yourself or someone else. Call 9-1-1 immediately so treatment can be given quickly. Being fast to seek medical attention may be the difference between ability and disability or even life and death.

BE-FAST most common stroke symptoms

  • Balance: Sudden loss of balance, trouble walking or dizziness
  • Eyes: Sudden loss of vision or trouble seeing in one or both eyes
  • Face: Sudden drooping, numbness or weakness
  • Arms: Sudden arm or leg weakness especially on one side of the body
  • Speech: Sudden confusion, trouble speaking, slurred speech or confusion
  • Time: Every second counts!

A sudden severe headache with no known cause may also be a sign of stroke.

Stroke risk factors include:

  • Atrial Fibrillation
  • Carotid Artery Disease
  • Diabetes
  • Diet
  • High blood cholesterol
  • High blood pressure
  • Obesity
  • Peripheral Artery Disease
  • Physical inactivity
  • Smoking

What are the treatment options for stroke?

Treatment for stroke depends on the type of stroke and how soon you seek treatment.

  • Medication treatment for ischemic stroke. Alteplase IV r-tPA dissolves a clot and improves blood flow to the brain.
  • Some stroke care may require endovascular interventional treatment to remove or dislodge the clot and restore blood flow.
  • Surgery may be recommended to remove or dissolve blood clots and stop bleeding in the brain.



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