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Heart DiseaseStrokeStroke Causes

Let's Talk About What Causes a Stroke

On the health-fear meter, strokes are right up there with heart attack. The causes are similar, too.

    Our Pro PanelStroke Causes

    We went to some of the nation's top experts in stroke to bring you the most up-to-date information possible.

    Rohan Arora, M.D.

    Rohan Arora, M.D.Director, Stroke Program

    Long Island Jewish Forest Hills
    Queens, NY
    Ghulam Abbas Kharal, M.D.

    Ghulam Abbas Kharal, M.D.Neurologist

    The Cleveland Clinic
    Cleveland
    Vivien Lee, M.D.

    Vivien Lee, M.D.Medical Director

    The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center’s Comprehensive Stroke Center
    Columbus, OH

    Frequently Asked QuestionsStroke Causes

    What should I do if I think I’m having a stroke?

    Don’t hesitate: Call 911. There’s a saying: Time is brain. That means the faster you get care, the less damage your brain will suffer and the better your outcome. In fact, early treatment may be able to reverse the damage that’s been done. But remember: Strokes can be fatal, and they can also cause permanent disability. So get to a hospital—stat.

    How do I know if I or someone I’m with is having a stroke?

    Here’s a quick acronym that will help you remember the most common symptoms: FAST. “F” stands for facial drooping due to paralysis, often on one side only. “A” stands for arm weakness. (When you lift both arms, one will drift back down.) “S” stands for speech, which often becomes slurred during a stroke, difficult to understand, or even impossible to do. “T” stands for time—meaning, it’s time to call 911.

    Are all strokes equally dangerous?

    Strokes vary in severity, but they are always medical emergencies. Even mini-strokes, otherwise known as transient ischemic attacks (TIA), need to be addressed immediately. Though it causes no permanent damage and lasts only a little while, a TIA sends a clear message: Your risk for a real stroke is quite high.

    Will I need a caregiver after my stroke?

    That will depend on the disability that your stroke has caused. If you do need a caregiver to help you with the basic tasks of daily living, like getting dressed and eating, it may be temporary until you’ve progressed through rehab and are once again able to care for yourself.

    Matt McMillen

    Matt McMillen

    Matt McMillen has been a freelance health reporter since 2002. In that time he’s covered everything from acupuncture to the Zika virus.