National Stroke Awareness Month: Causes and Symptoms

Causes and symptoms of strokes

This is the first blog in a three-part series about strokes.

May is National Stroke Awareness Month. According to the American Stroke Association (ASA), strokes are the number five cause of death and one of the leading causes of disabilities in the United States. Throughout the rest of the month, we will be sharing information about what causes strokes, the signs and symptoms to look for, risk factors and ways you can decrease your chances of having a stroke.

Today, we are sharing the common causes of a stroke as well as the symptoms and other signs to look for.

Causes of a Stroke

A stroke is caused when the blood supply to a part of the brain is interrupted (ischemic stroke) or when a blood vessel in the brain bursts (hemorrhagic stroke), dispersing blood into the spaces surrounding your brain cells. While this may sound frightening, the ASA reports that 80% of strokes are preventable. You’ll learn more about risk factors and prevention in this blog.

Stroke Signs and Symptoms

Numbness, confusion, difficulty seeing and walking, and a severe headache are the main signs that you or someone else is experiencing a stroke. If you think someone may be having a stroke, it’s important to act F.A.S.T. by performing the following exam:

  • Face Drooping: Does this person’s face droop to one side when they smile?
  • Arms: When this person raises their arms, does one drift downward?
  • Speech: Does this person have difficulty repeating simple phrases? Is their speech slurred or strange?
  • Time: Time is crucial to successful stroke treatment as many work best if performed within three hours of the first symptoms. Call 9-1-1 immediately if you or someone is experiencing any of the symptoms above.

Visit our blog next week for part two of our series where we will share stroke risk factors and prevention.

National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Strokes
Center for Disease Control
American Stroke Association
Harvard Health Publishing
Very Well Health