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Stroke Program

Signs of a Stroke 

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What is a Stroke?

A Stroke is a disruption of blood flow to a part of the brain. This causes the brain cells in the area beyond the disruption to die because they do not get the oxygen they need from the blood. A stroke can be cause by either a blockage (ischemic stroke) or by a rupture of a blood vessel (hemorrhagic stroke). Most strokes are caused by a blockage. When a blockage is the cause of the stroke, it can be caused by a blood clot or by a particle of other material. An ischemic (Iss-kee-mic) stroke is similar to a heart attack, but occurs in the brain. It is sometimes referred to as a "brain attack".

What are the symptoms of a Stroke?

Stroke symptoms vary widely, depending on the area of the brain where the disruption has occurred. When brain cells are injured by a stroke and can't work, the area of the body they control cannot work either. A stroke can affect the senses, movement of the body, speech, and the ability to understand speech. Any sudden symptoms like these need immediate medical evaluation. Examples of stroke symptoms include:

  • Sudden numbness or weakness of the face, arm of leg, especially on one side of the body.
  • Sudden confusion, trouble speaking or understanding.
  • Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes.
  • Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination.
  • Sudden severe headache with no known cause.

What is the difference between a TIA and a Stroke?

Sometimes people experience stroke-like symptoms that only last a very short time, sometimes only a few minutes. These may be due to a "mini-stroke" called a Transient Ischemic Attack or TIA. TIAs are important warning signs of strokes. Many people ignore these warnings because the symptoms get better very quickly. This can be dangerous because TIAs can progress to a stroke that does not get better. Often, there are treatments that can be started to prevent a TIA from becoming a stroke, or at least to reduce the chance of a stroke happening.

What should I do if I am having stroke-like symptoms?

The key to stroke care and recovery is early detection and medical attention.  Far too often, stroke sufferers do not receive medical care because the warning signs, which may last only a few minutes, are ignored.  If you or someone you know is experiencing stroke -like symptoms, you should call 911. An ambulance can take you to a hospital that can treat strokes. It is important to have your symptoms evaluated at the hospital, even if they go away before you get there. There are medications available for treating some strokes which can help prevent disability caused by strokes. While not everyone will be able to receive these special medications, the quicker you are evaluated, the more likely this treatment will be an option for you.

If you are interested in programs to help you identify health risks and provide you with customized tools to achieve a healtier lifestyle, check out the Beverly Hospital's Lifestyle Management Institute (LMI) for information about programs, and services available in the Institute located at Beverly Hospital at Danvers.

You can also take one of our online health risk assessments or use our Find A Doctor tool search for a healthcare provider who can evaluate your risks for stroke or heart disease.

Commitment To Quality

2016 BH Stroke Award

2016 AGH Stroke Award