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May is National Stroke Awareness Month, which makes this a good time to learn more about stroke.
Stroke is one of the leading causes of death in the U.S. and a major cause of serious disability for adults. More than 795,000 people in the U.S. have a stroke each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Stroke risk increases with age, especially after 55, but strokes can occur at any age.
A stroke occurs when the blood supply to part of your brain is interrupted or reduced, preventing brain tissue from getting oxygen and nutrients. Brain cells begin to die in minutes. A stroke is a medical emergency, and prompt treatment is crucial. Early action can reduce brain damage and other complications.
The two main causes of stroke are a blocked artery, which causes an ischemic stroke, or a leaking or burst blood vessel, which causes a hemorrhagic stroke. Some people may have only a temporary disruption of blood flow to the brain, known as a transient ischemic attack, that doesn't cause lasting symptoms.
Signs and symptoms of stroke include:
It's important to recognize the warning signs of stroke because prompt treatment is crucial to minimize brain damage and potential complications. To recognize the signs of stroke, remember the acronym FAST:
Emergency treatment for stroke depends on the type of stroke you're having. To treat an ischemic stroke, health care providers must quickly restore blood flow to your brain. Treatment of hemorrhagic stroke focuses on controlling the bleeding and reducing pressure in your brain caused by the excess fluid.
Most stroke survivors go to a rehabilitation program, and some rehabilitation may begin before you leave the hospital. After discharge, you might continue your program in a rehabilitation unit of the same hospital, at another rehabilitation unit or skilled nursing facility, as an outpatient, or at home.
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