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Stroke Information for Seniors Added to the NIHSeniorHealth Web Site

For release: Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Each year in the United States, there are more than 700,000 strokes.   Nearly three-quarters of all strokes occur in people over the age of 65 and the risk of having a stroke more than doubles each decade after the age of 55.   To help older adults learn more about the signs and symptoms of stroke and the need to act quickly, the National Institutes of Health is adding four new topics on stroke to its NIHSeniorHealth web site:  Act Quickly, Warnings Signs and Risk Factors, What Happens during a Stroke, and Treatments and Research.   The site features easy-to-read stroke information, developed by the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS), and may be found at

“Stroke is an unmistakable event.   Few other medical conditions come on so suddenly or are so noticeable to a bystander,” said John R. Marler, M.D., associate director for clinical trials at the NINDS.

A stroke occurs when normal blood flow to the brain is disrupted.   Brain cells die when deprived of oxygen and nutrients provided by blood.   Because stroke injures the brain, the person having a stroke may not realize what is happening.   But to a bystander the signs of a stroke are distinct:

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

In treating a stroke, every minute counts. New treatments are available that greatly reduce the damage caused by a stroke, but must be delivered quickly after symptoms begin.   Knowing the stroke symptoms, calling 911 immediately, and getting to a hospital are critical to preventing long-term disability. 

Risk factors for stroke include family history, high blood pressure, smoking, diabetes, physical inactivity, advancing age, and being overweight.

Older Americans are one of the fastest growing age groups using the Internet, especially when searching for health information.  In fact, 66 percent of “wired” seniors search for health and medical information when they go online. NIHSeniorHealth, a joint effort of the National Institute on Aging (NIA) and the National Library of Medicine (NLM), was designed especially with seniors in mind.   The site, which is based on the latest research on cognition and aging, features short, easy-to-read segments of information.   The new section links to other information on stroke on the NINDS website at  The site also links to MedlinePlus, NLM’s premier site for news on diseases and wellness, drug information, clinical trials, and other consumer health resources.

The NINDS is the nation's primary supporter of biomedical research on the brain and nervous system.  It is dedicated to research and education on the causes, treatment, and prevention of stroke.   The NIA leads the federal effort supporting and conducting research on aging and the health and well-being of older people.   The NLM, the world's largest library of the health sciences, creates and sponsors web-based health information resources for the public and professionals.   All three are components of the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland, part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

The National Institutes of Health (NIH)—The Nation's Medical Research Agency—is the primary Federal agency for conducting and supporting basic, clinical, and translational medical research, and investigates the causes, treatments, and cures for both common and rare diseases.  For more information about NIH and its programs, visit

Last Modified August 7, 2009