What is 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 of this disruption in blood flow or ruptured blood vessel, 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.
- In Canada, a stroke occurs every 9 minutes.
- Every year, 62,000 Canadians die or are left severely disabled following a stroke.
- For every minute delay in treating a stroke, a patient loses 1.9 million brain cells.
Stroke warning signs
A stroke can be treated, which is why it’s so important to know 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.
Stroke risk factors
- Age: For every decade over the age of 55, the risk for stroke doubles
- Gender: Men are more likely to have a stroke, but women tend to die more often from it
- Family history
- Ethnicity (Aboriginal peoples and people of African, South Asian or Hispanic descent)
- History of stroke or TIA (transient ischemic attack or mini-stroke)
Other risk factors you can control
- High blood pressure
- High cholesterol
- Heart disease – atrial fibrillation
- Being overweight (BMI)
- Excessive alcohol intake
- Poor diet/high-salt diet
- Lack of physical exercise
Questions on strokes or other types of heart disease? Ask your family pharmacist to help you assess your risk for heart disease.
The information contained herein is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended to provide complete information on the subject matter or to replace the advice of a health professional. This information does not constitute medical consultation, diagnosis or opinion and should not be interpreted as such. Please consult your health care provider if you have any questions about your health, medications or treatment.