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Stroke can be caused either by a clot obstructing the flow of blood to the brain (ischemic stroke) or by a blood vessel rupturing and preventing blood flow to the brain (hemorrhagic stroke). A TIA (transient ischemic attack), or "mini stroke", is caused by a temporary clot. When a blood vessel to the brain is blocked, the brain cannot get the blood (and oxygen) it needs. When this happens, brain cells begin to die and parts of the body may not function as they should.

F.A.S.T. is an easy way to remember the sudden signs of a stroke.

  • Face Drooping (one side of the face droops or is numb, or a smile is uneven)
  • Arm Weakness (one arm drifts downward when raising both arms)
  • Speech Difficulty (speech is slurred or a sentence can’t be repeated correctly)
  • Time to call 911!

If you’re having a stroke, it’s critical that you call 911 and get medical attention right away. Think of a stroke as a “brain attack” which is an emergency like a heart attack. Immediate treatment may minimize the long-term effects of a stroke and prevent death.

The good news is that most strokes are preventable. Managing key risk factors such as high blood pressure, cigarette smoking, atrial fibrillation and physical inactivity is essential. Talk to your doctor about your reducing your risk factors for stroke.

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