A stroke is a medical emergency caused by either a blood clot blocking a blood vessel in the brain or a broken blood vessel bleeding into the brain, states MedlinePlus. Strokes involving blockage are called ischemic, and strokes caused by bleeding are called hemorrhagic. Transient ischemic attacks are caused by brief interruptions of blood supply to the brain.
Symptoms of a stroke include numbness especially on one side of the body, difficulty seeing or speaking, confusion, headache and loss of coordination, reports WebMD. Symptoms may occur suddenly or gradually over the span of a few hours. Symptoms may vary depending on the severity of the stroke and the area of the brain where the stroke occurs.
Persons experiencing a stroke should receive medical attention as soon as possible, advises medlinePlus. Cells in the brain will begin to die without the supply of oxygen carried by blood, potentially causing permanent damage or death. Treatment for strokes may involve dissolving the blood clot or attempting to stop the bleeding.
People are more likely to have a stroke if they are older, male or have a family history of strokes, according to the Stroke Foundation. High blood pressure, high cholesterol, smoking and obesity also increase the risk of stroke.