A stroke, also called a brain attack, happens when the blood supply to the brain is suddenly interrupted. Without oxygen, nerve cells in the affected area of the brain can’t work and die within minutes. When nerve cells can’t work, the part of the body they control can’t work either. Stroke is our nation’s third leading cause of death and a leading cause of severe, long-term disability.

If you have any of these symptoms - take immediate action!

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

Call 911 and check the time. When did the first symptom start? You’ll be asked this important question later.


The most common cause of stroke is blockage in one or both of the carotid arteries, which are the main arteries leading to the brain. Blockage can occur from buildup of fatty plaque in the artery walls (atherosclerosis) or from a blood clot. A less common cause of stroke is a rupture (break) in a blood vessel leading to the brain.


Adopting a heart-healthy lifestyle can help you prevent the clogged arteries that can cause a stroke.

  • Eat lots of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and low-fat sources of protein such as nuts and fish
  • Exercise regularly
  • Maintain a healthy weight and keep diabetes under control
  • Quit smoking
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