What you need to know about strokes…

Stroke.  What an awful word.  My father had a debilitating stroke at age 50.

795,000 people have a new or recurrent stroke each year. Stroke is a leading cause of serious long-term disability in the US.  Stroke ranks fourth as cause of death (behind heart disease, cancer, and chronic lung disease).

87% of strokes occur when the brain does not receive enough blood.  The other 13% is due to bleeding into the brain, called a “hemorrhagic stroke.”  Whenever blood flow to the brain is disrupted (either by not enough blood or flooding of blood out of the blood vessels and into the brain tissue) brain function (read this: ability to perform common everyday tasks) is harmed.

Sometimes, there is a warning.  This is known as a transient ischemic attack (TIA).  A TIA is felt as neurologic changes that resolve spontaneously, without therapy.  The risk for someone who has had a TIA to progress to a stroke at 2 days is 10% and at 90 days is 17%.  This means, if you have a neurologic problem that goes away by itself, you are significantly at risk for a stroke to follow.  An aggressive work up and risk factor modification is needed.

What are stroke symptoms?  Sudden weakness on one side of the body.  Sudden difficulty speaking or understanding words.  Sudden difficulty seeing in one or both eyes.  Sudden loss of balance or coordination.  Sudden severe headache.


  • Face: Does the face look uneven.  Ask the person to smile.
  • Arms. Does one arm drift down?  Ask the person to raise both arms.
  • Speech.  Does the person’s speech sound strange?  Ask the person to repeat a simple phrase like “The sky is blue.”
  • Time: Call 911

Why the rush to treatment?  Brain cells (and future function) die fast!  So, there is a 4 1/2 hour window to initiate thrombolytic (medicine to break up blood clot) therapy to help re-infuse the brain with oxygenated blood.

Hope this helps.

About drlesliegreenberg

I have been practicing as a family physician for over 20 years--as both an educator of physicians and clinician. From infancy to the elderly, I perform obstetrics and general medicine. I love my career and am passionate about my field of knowledge and my patients. Follow me on Facebook at Leslie Md Greenberg Medical Disclaimer The content of this website is provided for general informational purposes only and is not intended as, nor should it be considered a substitute for, professional medical advice. Do not use the information on this website for diagnosing or treating any medical or health condition. If you have or suspect you have a medical problem, promptly contact your professional healthcare provider.
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