Brain Attack
05/08/2002

Every 53 seconds, someone in America has a stroke. Every 3.3 minutes, someone dies of one. According to the American Stroke Association (ASA), a stroke or brain attack occurs when a blood vessel bringing oxygen and nutrients to the brain bursts or is clogged by a blood clot or some other particle. Because of this rupture, or blockage, part of the brain doesn’t get the flow of blood it needs. Deprived of oxygen, nerve cells can’t function and the part of the body they control can’t function and dies within minutes. When nerve cells can’t function, the part of the body they control can’t function either.

Stroke is a life-changing event and its effects are often permanent. The effects of stroke depend on the location of the obstruction and the severity of tissue damage. According to the ASA, if the stroke occurs on the right side of the brain it could cause:

  • paralysis on the left side of the body;
  • vision problems;
  • quick inquisitive behavioral style; or
  • memory loss.

If the stroke occurs on the left side of the brain it could cause:

  • paralysis on the right side of the body;
  • speech/language problems;
  • slow cautious behavioral style; or
  • memory loss.

Stroke can strike anyone at anytime. About 600,000 Americans will have a stroke this year and 160,000 of them will die. A leading cause of serious, long-term disability in the United States, stroke requires immediate emergency treatment. The longer you wait to get help, the more damage the stroke can cause.

The warning signs of stroke are:

  • sudden numbness or weakness of the face, arm or leg, especially on one side of the body;
  • sudden confusion, trouble speaking or understanding;
  • sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes;
  • sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination; or
  • sudden severe headache with no known cause.

Not all of the warning signs occur in every stroke, but if you experience one or more warning signs, don’t ignore them – get help immediately. Call 9-1-1 or your emergency medical services.

May is Stroke Awareness Month. Talk to your physician about your risks for stroke.