What is a stroke?

A stroke occurs when the blood supply going to the brain is interrupted due to a blood clot, ruptured artery or restricted blood vessels. This interruption deprives the brain of much-needed oxygen and glucose and can lead to health conditions such as brain damage. Stroke victims often have impaired speech, memory loss and/or restricted mobility.

Two major types of stroke

  1. Hemorrhagic stroke– A hemorrhagic stroke occurs when a blood vessel that carries oxygen and nutrients to the brain explodes and spills blood into the brain. This is caused by uncontrolled high blood pressure, head injury, or aneurysm. High blood pressure is the most common cause of cerebral haemorrhage, as it causes small arteries inside the brain to burst. When this happens, certain parts of the brain are deprived of oxygen, causing the brain to stop functioning. It accounts for about 20 percent of all reported stokes cases. Signs and symptoms include:
    • Sudden severe headache with no known cause
    • Partial or total loss of consciousness
    • Vomiting or severe nausea
    • Sudden numbness or weakness of the face, arm or leg, especially on one side of the body
  2. Transient Ischemic Attacks – Transient Ischemic Attacks (TIAs) are often called mini-strokes. In TIA, the blood clot that blocks the flow of the blood in the brain breaks up on its own and the symptoms disappear after a short period of time. It generally does not cause severe brain damage, however, TIAs can be a warning of a more severe future stroke. Ischemic strokes account for 80 percent of all reported stoke cases. The symptoms disappear quickly, so it’s important to seek medical assistance immediately when symptoms appear.

Risk factors for stroke

  • Age 55 years and above
  • Male
  • African American, Hispanic or Asian/Pacific Islander
  • A family history of stroke
  • High blood pressure
  • High cholesterol
  • Smoking cigarettes
  • Diabetes
  • Obesity / Cardiovascular disease
  • A previous stroke or transient ischemic attack (TIA)
  • High levels of homocysteine (an amino acid in blood)
  • Birth control use or other hormone therapy
  • Cocaine use
  • Heavy use of alcohol


First aid for stroke

To know whether or not a person is experiencing possible stoke, remeber F.A.S.T.:

Face: Is one side of the face drooping down?

Arm: Can the person raise both arms, or is one arm weak?

Speech: Is speech slurred or confusing?

Time: Time is critical!! Call 9-1-1 immediately!

While waiting for medical assistance to arrive, do the following first aid for stroke:

  • Ask the person their name. If someone has had a stroke, they may not be able to talk, so grasp both their hands and ask them to squeeze — they may respond by squeezing one of your hands. This can help determine consciousness.