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Stroke Information


DESCRIPTION:A stroke or "brain attack" occurs when brain cells die because of inadequate blood flow. When blood flow fails, brain cells are robbed of vital supplies of oxygen and nutrients. About 80 percent of strokes are caused by the blockage of an artery in the neck or brain, and the rest by bleeding into or around the brain. Some strokes have little recognizable effect. Others can quickly cause death. Stroke kills about 150,000 Americans each year and is the leading cause of adult disability. As the names "stroke"and "brain attack" imply, it happens suddenly. Many strokes could be prevented by heeding stroke’s warning signs and treating its underlying risk factors, including high blood pressure, cigarette smoking, diabetes, and heart disease.

WARNING SIGNS OF A STROKE: If you observe one or more of these signs of a stroke or "brain attack," don’t wait, call a doctor or 911 right away!

  • Sudden weakness or numbness of the face, arm, or leg on one side of the body.
  • Sudden dimness or loss of vision, particularly in one eye.
  • Sudden difficulty speaking or trouble understanding speech.
  • Sudden severe headache with no known cause.
  • Unexplained dizziness, unsteadiness, or sudden falls, especially with any of the other signs.

Warning signs may last a few moments and disappear but indicate a serious condition that won’t go away without medical help.

Standard medical textbooks and health guides found at a local library contain additional information on preventing and treating stroke as well as coping with disability from a stroke. The following articles available from a medical library provide in-depth information on the latest clinical findings in NINDS-sponsored stroke research:

The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke t-PA Study Group. "Tissue Plasminogen Activator for Acute Ischemic Stroke." The New England Journal of Medicine, 333:24; 1581-1587 (December 14, 1995).

Stroke Prevention In Atrial Fibrillation Study Group Investigators. "Preliminary Report of the Stroke Prevention in Atrial Fibrillation Study." The New England Journal of Medicine, 322:12; 863-868 (March 22, 1990).

Stroke Prevention in Atrial Fibrillation Investigators. "Warfarin Versus Aspirin for Prevention of Thromboembolism Atrial Fibrillation: The Stroke Prevention in Atrial Fibrillation II Study." The Lancet, 343:8899; 687-691 (March 19, 1994).

The North American Symptomatic Carotid Endarterectomy Trial Collaborators. "Beneficial Effect of Carotid Endarterectomy in Symptomatic Patients with High-Grade Carotid Stenosis." The New England Journal of Medicine, 325:7; 445-453 (August 15, 1991).

Executive Committee for the Asymptomatic Carotid Atherosclerosis Study. "Endarterectomy for Asymptomatic Carotid Artery Stenosis." Journal of the American Medical Association, 273:18; 1421-1428 (May 10, 1995). To Obtain Suggested Resources

American Heart Association
7272 Greenville Avenue
Dallas, TX 75231
(214) 373-6300
(800) 242-8721

Agency for Health Care Policy and Research
P.O. Box 8547
Silver Spring, MD 20907
(800) 358-9295

National Stroke Association
96 Inverness Drive East, Suite One
Englewood, CO 80112
(303) 649-9299
(800) 787-6537

National Rehabilitation Information Center
8455 Colesville Road, Suite 935
Silver Spring, MD 20910-3319
(800) 346-2742

National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke
National Institutes of Health
Bethesda, MD 20892

Information provided by the NIH.