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Overview
A stroke is often referred to as a "brain attack" and it occurs when a blood vessel in the brain becomes blocked or ruptures.

During a stroke, the blockage or rupture disrupts the blood flow preventing oxygen from being delivered to the area of the brain affected. The section of brain tissue deprived of oxygen (blood flow) becomes "stunned" and no longer functions properly resulting in the stroke symptoms discussed below. For every minute treatment is delayed, additional cellular death of critical brain tissue occurs (infarction) minimizing the potential benefit of early treatment. Time to treatment is absolutely critical to increase the probability of a good patient recovery. Stroke can strike individuals of any age, race or gender.

Stroke is the third leading cause of death in the United States, behind heart disease and cancer and is the leading cause of severe, long-term disability. Each year roughly 795,000 Americans experience a new or recurrent stroke. Stroke is the number one cause of inpatient Medicare reimbursement for long-term adult care. Total stroke costs now exceed $63 billion per year in US healthcare dollars.

Types of Strokes
The term stroke refers to the sudden onset of neurological impairment. There are two types of stroke:

Ischemic stroke results when a blood vessel becomes blocked by either a thrombus or embolus. Thrombus is a blood clot that forms at the site of occlusion and an embolus is clot that has migrated from another part of the body and becomes lodged within the blood vessel feeding the brain. Approximately 87% of the strokes that occur in the United States are categorized as ischemic.

Hemorrhagic stroke is a result of rupture or perforation of blood vessel within the brain. The hemorrhage can be caused by an aneurysm (weakened blood vessel wall); vessel dissection/perforation, vascular malformation or from a traumatic event. Approximately 13% of the annual strokes that occur in the United States are categorized as hemorrhagic. The types of hemorrhages associated with hemorrhagic stroke include:
  • Subarachnoid hemorrhage Bleeding into the space between the brain and the cranium in an area called the subarachnoid space. This type of hemorrhage is usually observed when an aneurysm ruptures.
  • Intracerebral hemorrhage Bleeding directly into brain tissue and is usually caused by vascular malformation, hypertension, or perforated blood vessel.
Links
For more information and to find a stroke center near you, go to QuEST2StopStroke.

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