Frequently Asked Questions About Stroke

What is a stroke?

A stroke occurs when the blood flow to an area of the brain is cut off. This causes brain cells to be deprived of oxygen and they begin to die.

Is a stroke the same as a brain aneurysm?

A brain aneurysm is a ballooning or bulging of a blood vessel in the head. If this ruptures and bleeds, it is known as a hemorrhagic stroke.


What happens when brain cells die?


When brain cells die during a stroke, abilities that are controlled by that area of the brain such as memory and muscle control are lost.


Do strokes affect all people the same?


No. How a person is affected by their stroke depends on where the stroke occurs in the brain and how much the brain is damaged.


Don’t strokes only affect the elderly?


While adults over the age of 65 are most at risk, strokes can happen to anyone at any time, including infants.


Are there risk factors for stroke?


High blood pressure and heart disease, especially atrial fibrillation can double your risk of stroke. Your risk also increases if you smoke, have diabetes, sickle cell disease, high cholesterol or a family history of stroke.


Are there different kinds of strokes?


There are two major kinds of stroke. An ischemic stroke is one that is caused by an artery or blood vessel that is blocked. Approximately 80% of strokes are ischemic. The other 20% are hemorrhagic strokes, which occur when a blood vessel or artery bursts and leaks into the brain.


What are the signs of stroke?


Stroke strikes suddenly! If you or someone you know is experiencing signs of stroke, call 9-1-1.

A quick way to remember the signs of a stroke is BE FAST:

Balance: Sudden loss of balance
Eyes: Sudden vision changes
Face: Face drooping
Arm: Arm weakness or numbness
Speech: Slurred speech or trouble speaking
Terrible headache: Sudden onset of severe headache


What should I do if I think someone is having a stroke?

A stroke is a medical emergency. Call 9-1-1.


Could I be having a stroke?


If you have a sudden onset of any of the following, call 9-1-1:

  • Trouble speaking or understanding
  • Trouble walking or maintaining balance
  • Drooping or numbness on one side of the face
  • Weakness of numbness on one side of your body
  • Difficulty seeing through one or both eyes
  • Severe headache

Are strokes painful?


There is no pain with a stroke. This causes many people to disregard their symptoms.


Can you recover from a stroke?


A stroke affects everyone differently. The ability to recover from a stroke depends on the severity and how quickly you get medical attention.


With stroke treatment, will I be fine?

Depending on the severity of a stroke, you may lose some mental and physical abilities or have difficulty speaking or understanding.


Can you die from a stroke?

Stroke is the fifth leading cause of death in the United States.