In Canada, a stroke occurs every 10 minutes; and, every year, 50,000 people die or are left severely disabled following a stroke.
What is a stroke?
A stroke is a sudden loss of brain function. It is caused by the interruption of blood flow to the brain (ischemic stroke) or the rupture of a blood vessel in the brain (hemorrhagic stroke). As a result, brain cells (neurons) in the affected area die.
The after-effects of a stroke depend on the part of the brain involved and the extent of the damage. A stroke can impact any number of faculties, including the ability to walk, see, remember, talk, reason, read and write.
Stroke risk factors
- Age: After age 55, the risk of stroke doubles every 10 years
- Gender: Men are more likely to have a stroke, but women tend to die more often from it
- Family history
- Prior stroke or TIA (transient ischemic attack).
Only 20 to 25 percent of people who suffer a stroke receive emergency care and treatment within three hours of the start of symptoms – the critical period during which clot-busting drugs are most effective.
Since a stroke must be treated quickly, it is important to recognize its warning signs:
- Weakness - Sudden loss of strength or sudden numbness in the face, arm or leg, even if temporary
- Trouble speaking - Sudden difficulty speaking or understanding or sudden confusion, even if temporary
- Vision problems - Sudden trouble with vision, even if temporary
- Headache - Sudden severe and unusual headache
- Dizziness - Sudden loss of balance, especially if accompanied by the other warning signs
If you recognize any of these signs, dial 911 immediately.