Understanding Stroke

Your best chance for recovery following a stroke is getting medical help as soon as possible.

What is a stroke?

A stroke happens when blood flow to a part of your brain stops, which deprives your brain of the oxygen and nutrients it needs. A stroke can cause a large number of brain cells to die, which could lead to lasting damage or death. 

There are several different types of strokes.

Ischemic stroke is the most common type of stroke. This type of stroke happens when a clot or obstruction within a blood vessel cuts off blood to the brain. The obstruction is usually caused by fatty deposits in the lining of the vessel walls, called “atherosclerosis.”

Hemorrhagic stroke occurs when a weakened blood vessel ruptures and bleeds into the surrounding brain, compressing the surrounding brain tissue. The two types of weakened blood vessels that usually cause hemorrhagic stroke include aneurysms and arteriovenous malfunctions (AVMs).

An aneurysm is the abnormal bulging of an artery caused by weakness in the vessel wall. As the aneurysm grows, it may cause symptoms such as severe headaches and nausea. If left untreated, it could rupture, resulting in a stroke or death.

Are you at risk?

The first step in preventing a stroke is understanding your risk factors. There are some risk factors you can’t control including age and family history. But there are many more risk factors that you can control and treat.

Take our stroke risk assessment

B.E. F.A.S.T. - Recognize the signs of stroke symptoms.

Get medical help immediately if you recognize these warning signs.

Balance or dizziness

Eyes or blurred vision

Face drooping

Arm weakness

Speech difficulty

Time to call 911

Stroke support.

Whether you've experienced a stroke or you care for a loved one that has had a stroke, we are here for you with a variety of resources and support, including patient and caregiver guides and support groups.

Learn more