A stroke occurs when the blood supply to part of the brain is suddenly interrupted or when a blood vessel in the brain bursts, spilling blood into the spaces surrounding brain cells. Brain cells die when they no longer receive oxygen and nutrients from the blood or there is sudden bleeding into or around the brain. The symptoms of a stroke include sudden numbness or weakness, especially on one side of the body; sudden confusion or trouble speaking or understanding speech; sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes; sudden trouble with walking, dizziness, or loss of balance or coordination; or sudden severe headache with no known cause. There are two forms of stroke: ischemic - blockage of a blood vessel supplying the brain, and hemorrhagic - bleeding into or around the brain.
Generally there are three treatment stages for stroke: prevention, therapy immediately after the stroke, and post-stroke rehabilitation. Therapies to prevent a first or recurrent stroke are based on treating an individual's underlying risk factors for stroke, such as hypertension, atrial fibrillation, and diabetes. Acute stroke therapies try to stop a stroke while it is happening by quickly dissolving or removing the blood clot causing an ischemic stroke or by stopping the bleeding of a hemorrhagic stroke. Post-stroke rehabilitation helps individuals overcome disabilities that result from stroke damage. Medication or drug therapy is the most common treatment for stroke. The most popular classes of drugs used to prevent or treat stroke are antithrombotics (antiplatelet agents and anticoagulants) and drugs that break up or dissolve blood clots, called thrombolytics.
Although stroke is a disease of the brain, it can affect the entire body. A common disability that results from stroke is complete paralysis on one side of the body, called hemiplegia. A related disability that is not as debilitating as paralysis is one-sided weakness or hemiparesis. Stroke may cause problems with thinking, awareness, attention, learning, judgment, and memory. Stroke survivors often have problems understanding or forming speech. A stroke can lead to emotional problems. Stroke patients may have difficulty controlling their emotions or may express inappropriate emotions. Many stroke patients experience depression. Stroke survivors may also have numbness or strange sensations. The pain is often worse in the hands and feet and is made worse by movement and temperature changes, especially cold temperatures. Recurrent stroke is frequent; about 25 percent of people who recover from their first stroke will have another stroke within 5 years.
NINDS researchers are studying the mechanisms of stroke risk factors and the process of brain damage that results from stroke. Basic research has also focused on the genetics of stroke and stroke risk factors. Scientists are working to develop new and better ways to help the brain repair itself to restore important functions. New advances in imaging and rehabilitation have shown that the brain can compensate for function lost as a result of stroke. Information from the National Library of Medicine’s MedlinePlusStrokeStroke Rehabillitation
American Stroke Association: A Division of American Heart Association
7272 Greenville Avenue
Dallas, TX 75231-4596
Offers a wide array of programs, products, and services, from patient education materials to scientific statements with cutting-edge information for healthcare professionals.
Brain Aneurysm Foundation
269 Hanover Street, Building 3
Hanover, MA 02339
The Brain Aneurysm Foundation is the nation's only nonprofit organization solely dedicated to providing critical awareness, education, support and research funding to reduce the incidence of brain aneurysms.
Brain Attack Coalition
31 Center Drive
Bethesda, MD 20892-2540
The Brain Attack Coalition is a group of professional, voluntary and governmental entities dedicated to reducing the occurrence, disabilities and death associated with stroke. The goal of the Coalition is to strengthen and promote the relationships among its member organizations in order to help people who have had a stroke or are at risk for a stroke.
Children's Hemiplegia and Stroke Assocn. (CHASA)
4101 West Green Oaks Blvd., Ste. 305
Arlington, TX 76016
CHASA is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to improving the lives of children and families affected by pediatric stroke and other causes of hemiplegia. Offers national family retreat, local family events and seminars, online support group, websites, fact sheets, clinical study information, and pediatric stroke awareness campaigns.
Fibromuscular Dysplasia Society of America (FMDSA)
26777 Lorain Road, Suite 408
North Olmsted, OH 44070
We are a voluntary, not-for-profit organization and programs like these can not succeed without your support. Through volunteerism, membership, financial contributions, and event participation, the FMDSA can fulfill our vision and improve the quality of life of those affected by Fibromuscular Dysplasia.
Hazel K. Goddess Fund for Stroke Research in Women
785 Park Road, #3E
New York, NY 10021
Non-profit organization that focuses on critical issues specific to stroke in women, including research, prevention, treatment, education, and advocacy.
Heart Rhythm Society
1325 G Street, N.W.
Washington, DC 20005
Nonprofit organization dedicated to reducing death and disability due to heart rhythm disorders, such as atrial fibrillation.
Joe Niekro Foundation
26780 N. 77th Street
Scottsdale, AZ 85266
National Aphasia Association
P.O. Box 87
Scarsdale, NY 10583
Promotes the care, welfare, and rehabilitation of people with aphasia through public education and support of research. Offers printed materials, a toll-free information hotline, a newsletter, and a listing of support groups.
P.O. Box 692
1201 Creel Street
Conway, SC 29528
National patient advocacy organization benefiting adult stroke survivors under 65. Works to change public perception of stroke through education and promotes research to enhance quality of life for survivors and their caregivers. Initiatives include education for health professionals and patients, public service campaigns, support group launches and more.
Information sourced through CNF’s partnership with The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS), US National Institutes of Health.