• By Deb Balzer

Mayo Clinic Minute: What you need to know about stroke

October 29, 2019

Oct. 29 is World Stroke Day. Sometimes called a brain attack, stroke is the second leading cause of death worldwide and the fifth leading cause of death in the U.S. Men and women are at risk of a stroke, but women are more likely to have – and die – of a stroke than men. Dr. Kara Sands, a Mayo Clinic neurologist, says stroke kills twice as many women as breast cancer. The good news is that strokes are preventable, treatable and beatable. 

Watch: The Mayo Clinic Minute

Journalists: Broadcast-quality video (0:59) is in the downloads at the end of this post. Please "Courtesy: Mayo Clinic News Network. "Read the script.

"Stroke: Think about it as interruption of blood flow to the brain, either there isn't enough blood flow getting to the brain or there's too much," says Dr. Sands.

Hemorrhagic stroke is when a blood vessel in your brain leaks or ruptures. The most common type of stroke — ischemic — is when a blood vessel is blocked and not enough blood flows to the brain.  

"Stroke can happen to anyone, anywhere, anytime," says Dr. Sands.

Recognizing symptoms and acting FAST is key. If someone suddenly has a facial droop, arm weakness or is unable to feel one side of his or her body, slurred speech or trouble getting out the right words …

"... don't hesitate. Call 911," says Dr. Sands.

Dr. Sands says it's important that stroke patients are recognized and evaluated as quickly as possible, treated as quickly as possible.

Eighty percent of strokes can be prevented with lifestyle changes. Consider the risk factors.

"Uncontrolled blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol, smoking, obstructive sleep apnea, atrial fibrillation — strokes are preventable, treatable and beatable as long as you think FAST," says Dr. Sands.

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