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Why is a stroke called a brain attack?

Dr. Douglas E. Severance, MD
Family Practitioner

Similar to a heart attack, a "brain attack" or stroke is caused when oxygen-rich blood cannot get to cells, often because of a blood clot blocking the artery. As a result, the affected part of the brain can die. A stroke often causes weakness or paralysis of the face, hand, arm, foot or leg. You can have difficulty speaking, loss of feeling in an arm or leg, loss of consciousness, loss of vision, unsteadiness and other serious disabilities from a brain attack.

Heart conditions such as atrial fibrillation increase the risk of a stroke. That's because when the heart beats too fast and out of rhythm, it doesn't efficiently pump all the blood out of its upper chambers, so that the blood pools in there and can form clots that travel to the brain, triggering a stroke. Treating the atrial fibrillation may prevent clots from forming and stave off a brain attack as well as other serious heart conditions.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.