Heart / Stroke-Related: Stroke

A stroke occurs when blood vessels quit supplying blood to the brain. It is a medical emergency, and the fallout from experiencing a stroke can be dangerous and life-threatening.

There are two different types of stroke. An ischemic stroke is when the flow of blood through a blood vessel is blocked, often by a clot that breaks loose somewhere in the body, causing brain cells to die off. The second type of stroke is called a hemorrhagic stroke. This occurs when a blood vessel breaks and causes bleeding into the brain or the spaces around the brain.

Symptoms of a Stroke

Symptoms of a stroke include numbness or weakness in the face, arm or leg. Sometimes this will happen on just one side of the body. A stroke may also cause vision problems, difficulty with speech or confusion. Troubles with balance, walking and coordination are also common. These symptoms can also be accompanied by a severe headache. Sometimes nausea and vomiting, double vision or drowsiness can also occur.

Prevention and Treatment

There are a number of lifestyle-related risk factors that can make someone more likely to have a stroke. These include obesity, inactivity, high cholesterol, heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure and smoking, among others. Making positive changes like eating a healthy diet, exercising regularly, quitting smoking, maintaining a healthy weight and managing medical conditions can all play a role in preventing stroke.

When a stroke does occur, it requires emergency medical attention. Doctors will work to break up the clot and restore the flow of blood to the brain in the case of ischemic stroke, or remove the excess blood from the brain and repair the broken vessel in the case of hemorrhagic stroke. Stroke can sometimes cause neurological complications, so rehabilitation is sometimes necessary for a patient after a stroke.

SOURCES: U.S. National Institutes of Health; U.S. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke

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