A stroke can be devastating—and can happen quickly, to people of any age. Brain cells need oxygen to survive; when blood flow to a specific area of the brain is blocked off, the cells become oxygen-starved and can start to die within minutes.
As the cells die, many functions of the body can be affected—including muscle control, speech, and memory. A minor stroke can cause small effects, such as temporary weakness in a leg, arm, or other area of the body; a large stroke can cause permanent paralysis in specific areas of the body, or serious problems with brain function. The type of long-term effects you see after a stroke depend on which parts of the brain were affected.
How well you survive a stroke depends on a variety of factors as well—including how large the stroke was and how quickly you receive medical help.
Getting help quickly is key to recovery; the more time brain cells go without oxygen, the more of them die, causing more extensive damage.
Ischemic vs. Hemorrhagic StrokesHemorrhagic strokes are caused when a blood vessel bursts, spilling blood into the brain. This creates swelling in the skull. Hemorrhagic strokes are the most dangerous kind; although only 15% of strokes in the United States fall under this category, they cause 40% of all stroke fatalities. Older adults are more at risk of this type of stroke, as blood vessels can weaken with age.
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