Stroke is one of those dreadful events that can cause death in an instant. While it is the 3rd leading cause of death in the US, it is more likely that the person suffering this attack on the brain will survive it, sometimes barely. Stroke is a leading cause of disability, robbing people of the ability to do even the simplest of tasks, like feed or dress oneself, walk and talk. Victims are likely to be incapacitated in some way, sometimes for the rest of their life.
You may not know if and when a stroke will strike, but a future of functional disability may be sealed if you fall into a high-risk category and do nothing about it. While strokes are more common in older people, 1 in 4 people who have a stroke are under 65, and that includes young folks of all ages as well as middle-aged adults. It strikes women disproportionately, who are also more likely to be home alone and unable to get immediate help when a stroke strikes. Because when it comes to stroke, every minute matters.
What is a stroke?
A stroke is an attack on the brain, a cerebrovascular accident (CVA) caused by 1 of 2 things; too little blood reaching the brain (ischemic stroke), or too much blood pooling in the brain (hemorrhagic stroke). The distinction is important because while the mechanism that causes these 2 events is different, the symptoms and outcome may be the same. Either way, the timing of treatment is critical to the degree of damage and survival.
Hemorrhagic strokes occur when blood leaks out of a blood vessel, usually an artery, into the brain tissue. Unlike a bleed elsewhere in the body, bleeding in and around the brain cavity is restricted by the skull and the pressure created by the trapped blood damages brain tissue.