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What is a brain attack?

A brain attack (stroke) damages the brain just as a heart attack damages the heart. Both are medical emergencies. Symptoms include sudden onset of:

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

A stroke occurs when the flow of blood to the brain is blocked. A stroke can be caused by a clot in a blood vessel or artery (ischemic stroke) or by a ruptured or burst blood vessel (hemorrhagic stroke). Strokes occurring from clogged vessels are more common and account for 83 percent of all strokes. Fast treatment can save a life.



Gail Carlson, MPH Ph.D., Continuing Medical Education, School of Medicine, University of Missouri-Columbia

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Last update: Wednesday, November 26, 2008




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