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What is a Stroke?

Stroke is the third-leading cause of death in the United States (behind heart disease and cancer). That means it’s likely you know someone who has been affected, directly or indirectly, by a stroke.

Most people are familiar with the lasting effects of a stroke: the memory loss, challenges with speech, or paralysis on one side of the body. But what actually happens during a stroke to cause these changes, and why do strokes happen in the first place?

In this video, internist Paul Knoepflmacher, MD, explains what your body is going through when you have a stroke and what symptoms you should be on the lookout for.

What is a stroke? A stroke occurs when normal blood flow to the brain is interrupted. There are two types of strokes: ischemic and hemorrhagic.

An ischemic stroke is when not enough blood can get to the brain because blood clots or plaques form inside the blood vessels. When blood flow to your brain is blocked, your brain cells begin to die within a matter of minutes.

A hemorrhagic stroke happens when a blood vessel ruptures and blood spills into the brain, killing brain cells. When brain cells die during a stroke, some of the basic functions controlled by the brain are affected. These include movement, speech and communication, memory, vision loss, and even personality.

Signs of a stroke include a sudden numbness or weakness in one side of the body, severe headaches, dizziness, and a loss of balance or coordination, or sudden confusion.

As dangerous as strokes can be, 80% of them are preventable. Here is more information about preventing and treating a stroke.

Dr. Paul Knoepflmacher

This video features Dr. Paul Knoepflmacher. Dr. Paul Knoepflmacher is a Diplomate of the American Board of Internal Medicine

Duration: 03:25.
Reviewed by: Dr. Preeti Parikh, Dr. Holly Atkinson, Dr. Supriya Jain, Dr. Mera Goodman . Review date: November 27, 2014
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