Glossary >


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A stroke is a medical condition in which the blood supply to part of the brain is interrupted or reduced, depriving brain tissue of oxygen and nutrients. This can cause brain cells to die, leading to permanent disability or even death. Strokes are a leading cause of death and disability in the United States and worldwide.

Strokes can be divided into two main types: ischemic strokes, which are caused by a blockage of a blood vessel in the brain, and hemorrhagic strokes, which are caused by a rupture of a blood vessel in the brain. Ischemic strokes account for about 87% of all strokes, while hemorrhagic strokes account for the remaining 13%.

The most common symptoms of a stroke include:

  • 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.
  • Sudden severe headache with no known cause.

Risk factors for stroke include high blood pressure, diabetes, smoking, high cholesterol, obesity, physical inactivity, excessive alcohol consumption, and a family history of stroke.

Treatment for stroke includes medications to reduce the risk of further strokes and physical, occupational, and speech therapy to help the patient regain function.

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  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2020). Stroke. Retrieved from
  • American Heart Association. (2020). Stroke. Retrieved from