Definition

The sudden death of brain cells due to lack of oxygen, caused by blockage of blood flow or rupture of an artery to the brain.

Also Known As

  • Cardiovascular Accident (CVA)

Types

  • Hemorrhagic – an artery to the brain ruptures
  • Ischemic – blood flow to the brain is blocked
  • Transient Ischemic Attack (TIA) – blood flow to the brain is blocked for less than five minutes

Causes

  • Rupture of an artery to the brain (ischemic)
  • Blockage of blood flow to the brain (hemorrhagic)
  • Temporary disruption of blood flow (TIA)

Statistics (CDC)

  • About 140,000 Americans will die because of a stroke per year (every 4 minutes)
  • Someone in the US has a stroke every 40 seconds
  • Every year, 795,000 people in the US will have a stroke; approximately 610,000 of these will be new strokes
  • About 87% of all strokes are ischemic

Risk Factors

  • Age
  • Arteriovenous malformations
  • Brain Aneurysm
  • Diabetes
  • Family history
  • Gender (men have a higher risk at younger ages; women have a higher lifetime risk)
  • Heart and blood vessel disease (coronary artery disease, Afib, carotid artery disease, heart valve disorders)
  • Heavy alcohol or drug use
  • High blood pressure (hypertension)
  • High cholesterol (hyperlipidemia)
  • Hormone use (birth control pills, estrogen therapies)
  • Infections (lupus, rheumatoid arthritis)
  • Obesity
  • Obstructive Sleep Apnea
  • Physical inactivity
  • Race & Ethnicity (African American, Alaska Native, American Indian, and Hispanic adults have higher risk)
  • Tobacco smoking

Prevention

Knowing stroke risk factors, following doctor’s recommendations and adopting a healthy lifestyle are the best steps to take to prevent a stroke.\

  • Control high blood pressure and high cholesterol
  • Drink alcohol only in moderation, if at all
  • Eat a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains; and low in saturated fats and salts
  • Engage in physical activity (aim for 150 minutes of moderate activity every week)
  • Manage chronic conditions (diabetes, obstructive sleep apnea)
  • Quit tobacco and other drug use

Vaccinations

People with a chronic disease are at higher risk for serious problems from certain diseases. Getting vaccinated is an important step in staying healthy.

The CDC recommends all adults receive:

  • Influenza – recommended every year, age 6 months and older
  • Tdap – (if an adult did not receive it as an adolescent to protect against pertussis (whooping cough), and then a Td (tetanus, diphtheria) booster shot every 10 years.

Talk to your doctor about which other vaccines are right for you.

COVID-19 and Stroke

Older adults and people of any age who have serious underlying medical conditions might be at higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19.

COVID-19 has been found to cause blood clots that lead to stroke.

Resources

Support Groups