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NINDS Stroke Information for Seniors
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 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.
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.
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.
American Stroke Association:
A Division of American Heart Association
7272 Greenville Avenue
Dallas, TX 75231-4596
Tel: 1-888-4STROKE (478-7653)
Brain Aneurysm Foundation
269 Hanover Street, Building 3
Hanover, MA 02339
Tel: 781-826-5556 888-BRAIN02 (272-4602)
Brain Attack Coalition
31 Center Drive
Bethesda, MD 20892-2540
National Stroke Association
9707 East Easter Lane
Centennial, CO 80112-3747
Tel: 303-649-9299 800-STROKES (787-6537)
National Aphasia Association
P.O. Box 87
Scarsdale, NY 10583
Tel: 212-267-2814 800-922-4NAA (4622)
Children's Hemiplegia and Stroke Assocn. (CHASA)
4101 West Green Oaks Blvd., Ste. 305
Arlington, TX 76016
Hazel K. Goddess Fund for Stroke Research in Women
785 Park Road, #3E
New York, NY 10021
Heart Rhythm Society
1325 G Street, N.W.
Washington, DC 20005
22512 Gateway Center Drive
Clarksburg, MD 20871
Tel: 1- 800-437-2423
Fibromuscular Dysplasia Society of America (FMDSA)
20325 Center Ridge Road Suite 620
Rocky River, OH 44116
Tel: 216-834-2410 888-709-7089
P.O. Box 692
Conway, SC 29528
Tel: 843-248-9019; 843-655-2835
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 Modified February 5, 2016