What is a Stroke?
Stroke is the 4th leading cause of death in North Carolina and is also a major cause of premature death and years of life lost. North Carolina has the 8th highest stroke death rate in the nation and is part of the Stroke Belt and the Stroke Buckle, areas of the U.S. that historically have had the highest stroke death rate.
What is a stroke?
Stroke is actually a type of cardiovascular disease. A stroke occurs when a blood vessel that carries oxygen and nutrients to the brain is either blocked by a clot or bursts. When this happens, part of the brain can't get the blood and oxygen it needs, so it starts to die.
There are generally three types of strokes:
- TIAs (Transient Ischemic Attacks). "Warning strokes" or mini strokes that may occur before a more devastating stroke. Blood flow through an artery in the brain is blocked or reduced for a brief period.
- Ischemic Stroke. Blood vessels to the brain are blocked so brain cells don't get the blood and oxygen they need. This type accounts for 80 percent of all strokes.
- Hemorrhagic Stroke. A blood vessel in the brain bursts or is leaking and brain cells are not getting the oxygen and nutrients they need.
The brain is a complex organ that controls various body functions. If a stroke happens and blood flow cannot reach the region that controls a particular body function that part of the body won't work as it should.
When part of the brain dies from lack of blood flow, the part of the body it controls is affected. This is why a stroke can cause paralysis, affect language and vision, and cause other problems.
If the stroke happens toward the back of the brain, for example, it is likely that some disability involving vision will result. The effects of a stroke depend on the location of the stroke and how much damage the brain tissue had.
Each side of the brain controls the opposite side of the body. A stroke affecting one side will result in complications on the side of the body it controls. For example:
If the stroke occurs in the left side of the brain, the right side of the body and the left side of the face will be affected. This could produce some or all of the following:
- Paralysis (a weakness) on the right side of the body
- Speech/language problems
- Difficulty swallowing
- Memory loss
If the stroke occurs in the brain's right side, the left side of the body and the right side of the face will be affected. This could produce any or all of the following:
- Paralysis (a weakness) on the left side of the body
- Vision problems
- Memory loss
When It Comes to Strokes, Act Fast. Call 911. (PDF, 418 KB)
Cuando Se Trata De Un Accidente Cerebrovascular, Actúe Rápidamente. Llame Al 911. (PDF, 400 KB)
The information on this site is just the beginning. Many of our partners, including the American Stroke Association and the NC Stroke Care Collaborative have each created in-depth sites that will provide you with more detailed information. Also please visit the American Academy of family Physicians website for simple explanations of stroke and other cardiovascular diseases.
CONTENT SOURCE: www.strokeassociation.org and CDC WONDER Compressed Mortality Data 2013 (ICD-10: I60-I69)
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