What is Stroke? 

Stroke is the third leading cause of death in America and a leading cause of adult disability.

A stroke or "brain attack" occurs when a blood clot blocks an artery (a blood vessel that carries blood from the heart to the body) or a blood vessel (a tube through which the blood moves through the body) breaks, interrupting blood flow to an area of the brain.  When either of these things happen, brain cells begin to die and brain damage occurs.

When brain cells die during a stroke, abilities controlled by that area of the brain are lost.  These abilities include speech, movement and memory. 

You can learn more about stroke by visiting the National Stroke Association website, or the  American Stroke Association website.



Act F.A.S.T.

Up to 80% of strokes are preventable; you can prevent a stroke!

If you think someone may be having a stroke, act F.A.S.T. and do this simple test:

Act F.A.S.T.


Ask the person to smile.

Does one side of the face droop?


Ask the person to raise both arms.

Does one arm drift downward?


Ask the person to repeat a simple sentence.

Are the words slurred?  Can he/she repeat the sentence correctly?


If the person shows any of these symptoms, time is important. 

Call 911 or get to the hospital fast. Brain cells are dying.



Stroke Symptoms

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

Call 911 immediately if you have any of these symptoms.

Note the time you experienced your first symptom. This information is important to your healthcare provider and can affect treatement decisions.

If you have experienced any of these symptoms, you may have had a TIA or mini-stroke.



Stroke Risk Factors:    Am I at risk for a stroke?

Anyone can have a stroke no matter your age, race or gender. But, the chances of having a stroke increase if a person has certain risk factors, or criteria that can cause a stroke. The good news is that up to 80 percent of strokes can be prevented, and the best way to protect yourself and loved ones from stroke is to understand personal risk and how to manage it.

There are 2 types of risk factors for stroke: controllable and uncontrollableControllable risk factors generally fall into two categories: lifestyle risk factors or medical risk factors. Lifestyle risk factors can often be changed, while medical risk factors can usually be treated. Both types can be managed best by working with a doctor, who can prescribe medications and advise on how to adopt a healthy lifestyle. Uncontrollable risk factors include being over age 55, being male, being African American, Hispanic or Asian/Pacific Islander, or having a family history of stroke or transient ischemic attack (TIA).



Controllable Risk Factors

Uncontrollable Risk Factors

High Blood Pressure

Atrial Fibrillation

High Cholesterol


Tobacco Use and Smoking
Alcohol Use
Physical Inactivity


Family History
Previous Stroke or TIA
Fibromuscular Dysplasia
Patent Foramen Ovale (PFO or Hole in the Heart)


To become more familiar with your personal risk for stroke, the National Stroke Association developed an easy-to-use tool called a Stroke Risk Scorecard. The Scorecard provides an idea of a person's stroke risk. Once the scorecard is completed, discuss the results with a doctor who will help assess the risk factors and help manage and treat any controllable risk factors. Remember: it is important to always take medications as a doctor prescribes to stay on top of stroke prevention.