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What is a stroke?

A stroke occurs when a section of the brain is deprived of oxygen and the cells begin to die. This happens for one of two reasons: (1) A blood vessel in the brain becomes blocked, or (2) a blood vessel in the brain ruptures. Both of these situations cause damage to brain tissues and structures. If you or someone you are with is experiencing symptoms of a stroke (loss of muscle tone or paralysis on one side, slurred or confused speech, sudden blindness, confusion, and/or severe headache), call 911 (or the emergency number in your area).

Can you die from a stroke?

The consequences of a stroke depend on the type of stroke, its severity, and its location in the brain. A stroke can be debilitating, causing paralysis, loss of vision, loss of speech, or loss of memory. In severe cases or when medical intervention cannot be accessed quickly enough, a stroke can be fatal. Quickly getting medical help can mean the difference between death, severe debilitation, and a possible recovery. If you or someone you are with is experiencing symptoms of a stroke (loss of muscle tone or paralysis on one side, slurred or confused speech, sudden blindness, confusion, and/or severe headache), call 911 (or the emergency number in your area).

How many different types of strokes are there?

In general, there are two types of stroke: blood clot (blocked blood vessel) and hemorrhage (ruptured blood vessel). Strokes caused by clots are sometimes called ischemic attacks; these tend to be less severe, can be temporary (see “What is a TIA?” below), and are generally easier to treat. Hemorrhagic strokes are the result of a blood vessel rupturing in the brain. These tend to be more severe and have lower survival rates and lower chances of recovery.

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