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Understanding Strokes: A Look at Symptoms, Risk Factors, and Treatments

What is a stroke? Simply put, a stroke happens when the blood supply to part of the brain is blocked or reduced. There are different types of strokes, but all strokes are considered a medical emergency. According to the Stroke Awareness Foundation, about 795,000 people suffer a stroke every year, and more than 140,000 deaths occur from stroke each year.1


Types of Strokes

There are three types of strokes: ischemic stroke, hemorrhagic stroke and transient ischemic attack (TIA).

  • Ischemic stroke -- This is the most common type of stroke that happens when the brain's blood vessels become narrowed or blocked. This happens as a result of plaques building up in blood vessels or blood clots that get lodged in blood vessels.

  • Hemorrhagic stroke – This happens when a blood vessel in the brain ruptures or leaks. This can be due to various causes, such as uncontrolled high blood pressure, head trauma or weak spots in the blood vessel walls.

  • Transient ischemic attack – A TIA is a temporary decrease in blood supply to part of the brain. This is sometimes called a ministroke and can happen when plaque temporarily reduces blood flow.


Stroke Symptoms:

Trouble speaking – Confusion, slurred words or inability to understand speech.

Numbness or weakness – This often affects one side of the body.

Vision problems – Blurry vision, double vision or blackened vision.

Headache – Sudden, severe headache.

Trouble walking – Loss of balance or coordination.


If you or someone you’re with has the symptoms of a stroke, seek medical emergency care right away. Think “FAST.”

  • Face – One side of the face is drooping.

  • Arms – When arms are raised, one drifts downward or cannot rise.

  • Speech – Speech is slurred or different than normal.

  • Time – If you see these signs, call 911 right away.


Risk Factors

There are many stroke risk factors, and stroke risk rises for people age 55 and older. Risk factors include:

  • High blood pressure

  • High cholesterol

  • Cardiovascular disease

  • Diabetes

  • Obesity

  • Physical inactivity

  • Cigarette smoking


Stroke Rehabilitation: What to Expect

After someone experiences a stroke, they may need intensive rehabilitation therapy as part of their recovery. A comparative study also revealed that the care rehab care provided in an inpatient rehab facility was associated with greater improvement in mobility and self-care versus the rehab care in a skilled nursing facility.2

Rehabilitation can help with movement, speech, strength and activities of daily living. Here’s what you can expect:

  • Physical therapy to improve motor skills, strength, coordination and walking.

  • Speech-language therapy to improve communication, memory or swallowing.

  • Occupational therapy to improve the ability to perform daily activities, such as dressing, bathing or cooking.


If you or a loved one has recently experienced a stroke, consider Oklahoma City Rehabilitation Hospital for stroke rehabilitation. Learn more about stroke rehab on our website. We are here to help! 

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