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Know the Causes and Signs of a Stroke

Johnson Memorial Health on May 11, 2020

Nearly everyone knows someone who has had a stroke. It's the fifth leading cause of death among Americans, and a stroke can happen to anyone at anytime. A stroke is a serious medical emergency. Acting fast can prevent more damage from occurring. Stokes can be treated and prevented.  Up to 80% of strokes can be prevented! Knowing the signs and symptoms of stroke increase your chances of getting immediate medical help which helps minimize damage and other potential complications. 



A stroke occurs when the blood supply to your brain is reduced or interrupted. Your brain needs oxygen and nutrients from your blood, and brain cells can die when it is deprived of oxygen. 

Strokes can be caused by blockage in an artery or a leaking blood vessel. People sometimes have a temporary disruption of blood flow, but any disruption can still do damage.

Family history does play a role in your risk of having a stroke, but a stroke can happen to anyone at anytime. Stroke is not a condition that happens to older patients. There are also certain conditions that raise the risk of stroke.

  • high blood pressure
  • smoking
  • diabetes
  • heart diseases
  • brain aneurysm
Types of Strokes
  • Ischemic Stroke: Nearly 85% of strokes are classified as Ischemic strokes. An ischemic stroke is when the arteries to your brain become blocked reducing blood flow. There are two types of ischemic strokes.
    • Thrombotic stroke occurs when there is a blood clot in an artery leading to the brain. 
    • An embolic stroke occurs when a blood clot occurs in an another area of your body. The clot gets swept away and trapped in a narrower artery that leads to the brain.

  • Hemorrhagic Stroke: When a blood vessel in your brain leaks or ruptures, this is known as a hemorrhagic stroke. This can be the result of many conditions such as high blood pressure or aneurysm. There are two types of hemorrhagic strokes.
    • Intercerebral stroke occurs when an blood vessel in the brain ruptures and blood spills into the surrounding areas. This reduces blood supply to other areas of the brain and damages cells. This type of stroke is usually caused by high blood pressure, trauma, or certain blood-thinning medications. 
    • Subarachnoid hemorrhage occurs when an artery near the surface of the brain burst causing blood to fill the area between the brain and the skull. This is usually caused by an aneurysm.

  • Transient Ischemic Attack: This type of stroke is sometimes called a ministroke. A transient ischemic attack is similar to an ischemic stroke, but it's only temporary and passes quickly. Because it's temporary, it doesn't leave lasting symptoms. You still need to seek medical care because often these transient ischemic attacks are a warning to a full blown stroke coming soon.
Signs and Symptoms
  • Confusion; trouble speaking or understanding
  • Paralysis or numbness on one side of your face, arm, or leg
  • Blurred vision in one or both eyes
  • Sudden severe headache
  • Dizziness or loss of balance

Here's an acronym to help you known when you should seek medical care immediately. Seek help even if these signs or symptoms come and go.

Think FAST!

  • FACE Ask the person to smile to see if their face looks different. Does one side droop?
  • ARMS Ask the person to raise both arms to see if they can or if it is difficult. Do they have normal range of motion?
  • SPEECH Listen to the person speaking Are their words slurred or strange?
  • TIME If you see a person displaying these signs or symptoms, act quickly and call 911! Don't wait. With stroke, every minute counts. There is more potential for damage as time goes by.

HFAP-Stroke-Ready-Seal-JMH-Footer.pngJohnson Memorial Health is accredited with a Stroke Ready Certification from the Healthcare Facilities Certification Program. Accreditation confirms that Johnson Memorial Health is providing high quality stroke care as determined by an independent, external process of evaluation.


Topics: Stroke