All organs and tissues in your body need a steady stream of oxygenated blood to function. If your brain does not receive the proper amount of blood, you may have a stroke. Stroke is the third highest cause of death in the United States, behind only heart disease and cancer, and is a leading cause of long-term disability. According to the American Heart Association, each year nearly 800,000 people in the United States will experience a stroke.
There are a number of causes of stroke, but the two main causes are
- Decreased blood flow to the brain from a main artery
- A blood clot or other “debris” that blocks a small blood vessel in the brain
In addition, there are many cases where the reason for a stroke is unclear. These are called cryptogenic strokes
Strokes caused by a decrease in blood flow to the brain are called ischemic strokes
. These strokes can be the result of a blockage in one of the carotid arteries or other arteries in the brain. Blockages most often occur when a fatty substance called plaque narrows the artery so much that blood cannot flow freely.
A stroke can cause brain damage and result in loss of hand, leg and voice function or even death.
Anyone who thinks he or she is experiencing a stroke should call for an ambulance immediately. With a stroke, time lost is brain function lost, so seeking urgent medical attention is critical.
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