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NINDS Stroke Information Page

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 NINDS Stroke Information for Seniors
Condensed from Stroke: Hope Through Research

Table of Contents (click to jump to sections)


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What is Stroke?

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.

Is there any treatment?

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 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 thrombolytics.

What is the prognosis?

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.

What research is being done?

The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) conducts stroke research and clinical trials at its laboratories and clinics at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and through grants to major medical institutions across the country. Currently, 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.

NIH Patient Recruitment for Stroke Clinical Trials

Organizations

Column1 Column2
American Stroke Association: A Division of American Heart Association
7272 Greenville Avenue
Dallas, TX   75231-4596
strokeinfo@heart.org
http://www.strokeassociation.org
Tel: 1-888-4STROKE (478-7653)
Fax: 214-706-5231

Brain Aneurysm Foundation
269 Hanover Street, Building 3
Hanover, MA   02339
office@bafound.org
http://www.bafound.org
Tel: 781-826-5556 888-BRAIN02 (272-4602)

Brain Attack Coalition
31 Center Drive
Room 8A07
Bethesda, MD   20892-2540
http://www.stroke-site.org
Tel: 301-496-5751
Fax: 301-402-2186

National Stroke Association
9707 East Easter Lane
Suite B
Centennial, CO   80112-3747
info@stroke.org
http://www.stroke.org
Tel: 303-649-9299 800-STROKES (787-6537)
Fax: 303-649-1328

National Aphasia Association
350 Seventh Avenue
Suite 902
New York, NY   10001
naa@aphasia.org
http://www.aphasia.org
Tel: 212-267-2814 800-922-4NAA (4622)
Fax: 212-267-2812

Children's Hemiplegia and Stroke Assocn. (CHASA)
4101 West Green Oaks Blvd., Ste. 305
PMB 149
Arlington, TX   76016
info437@chasa.org
http://www.chasa.org
Tel: 817-492-4325

Hazel K. Goddess Fund for Stroke Research in Women
1217 South Flagler Drive
Suite 302
West Palm Beach, FL   33401
anne@thegoddessfund.org
http://www.thegoddessfund.org
Tel: 561-623-0504

Heart Rhythm Foundation
1400 K Street, NW
Suite 500
Washington, DC   20005
support@heartrhythmfoundation.org
http://www.heartrhythmfoundation.org
Tel: 202-464-3454
Fax: 202-464-3405

BrightFocus Foundation
22512 Gateway Center Drive
Clarksburg, MD   20871
info@brightfocus.org
http://www.brightfocus.org/alzheimers/
Tel: 1- 800-437-2423
Fax: 301-258-9454

Fibromuscular Dysplasia Society of America (FMDSA)
20325 Center Ridge Road Suite 620
Rocky River, OH   44116
admin@fmdsa.org
http://www.fmdsa.org/
Tel: 216-834-2410 888-709-7089

YoungStroke, Inc.
P.O. Box 692
Conway, SC   29528
info@youngstroke.org
http://www.youngstroke.org
Tel: 843-248-9019; 843-655-2835

 
Related NINDS Publications and Information
Publicaciones en Español


Prepared by:
Office of Communications and Public Liaison
National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke
National Institutes of Health
Bethesda, MD 20892



NINDS health-related material is provided for information purposes only and does not necessarily represent endorsement by or an official position of the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke or any other Federal agency. Advice on the treatment or care of an individual patient should be obtained through consultation with a physician who has examined that patient or is familiar with that patient's medical history.

All NINDS-prepared information is in the public domain and may be freely copied. Credit to the NINDS or the NIH is appreciated.

Last updated October 14, 2014