What is a Stroke?

The Stroke Center at Saint Barnabas

What is a Stroke?

A stroke is the disruption of blood flow to an area of the brain.

As a result of the loss of blood supply, the area of the brain supplied by that artery dies. The actual signs of the stroke are dependent upon the actual blood vessel that is affected. Some common signs of stroke include: weakness or numbness of one side of the body, inability to speak or understand what others are saying, slurred speech, vision disturbance (usually in one eye), headache (usually with hemorrhagic stroke, described as the "worst headache of my life"), and dizziness or vertigo (a sensation of spinning).

Stroke can occur in two different ways:

  • An Ischemic Stroke occurs when an artery in the brain becomes blocked by either a blood clot, or an atherosclerotic plaque (a build up of cholesterol).
  • A Hemorrhagic Stroke occurs when an artery in the brain ruptures or bursts.

A Word about TIAs (commonly referred to as Mini-Strokes)

A patient having a transient ischemic attack (TIA) will have the same symptoms of a stroke patient -- the only difference is that the symptoms resolve or go away. A TIA usually lasts no more than two hours; often for a few minutes. DON'T BE FOOLED. If you have a TIA, it is a warning sign that a stroke may be imminent. Call 911.