What is a Stroke?

A stroke has been called a "brain attack." This happens when blood vessels in the brain are suddenly blocked or burst. Brain cells are denied blood and oxygen and begin to die causing a wide variety of disabling symptoms and often permanent disability or death.

There are two forms of stroke:

  • Ischemic-blockage of a blood vessel supplying the brain
  • Hemorrhagic-bleeding into or around the brain

There is also:

  • TIA or transient ischemic attack, which is commonly called a "mini-stroke"

Learn More about TIA

What is a Transient Ischemic Attack (TIA)?

In a transient ischemic attack or TIA, blood flow to the brain is also interrupted resulting in stroke-like symptoms that generally last between two to fifteen minutes. They tend to disappear altogether within 24 hours. A TIA can be a warning that a stroke is imminent so prompt medical attention is critical.

What are the symptoms?

The symptoms are similar to those of a full-blown stroke but are shorter and may be less intense: vision problems, change in speech, tingling around the mouth, numbness in an arm or leg, sudden severe headache. Several of these symptoms may be experienced simultaneously. Many people ignore these symptoms, because they are often short-lived and they think there must be another explanation such as the heat, something they ate, or a migraine.

What should you do if you experience a TIA?

Even if the symptoms pass quickly, get to a hospital. Early intervention can prevent the onset of stroke. Blood tests, EKGs and CT scans can often identify the source of the problem. Drugs, therapies and life style changes are often the prescriptions for preventing a stroke.