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A stroke happens when a part of the brain dies from lack of blood, usually because one of the arteries that supply oxygen-carrying blood to the brain has been damaged. There are two ways this can happen:
- Clogged vessel or ischemic stroke: Caused by blockage of a blood vessel in the brain, usually by a blood clot or by fatty deposits on the vessel wall. 80% of strokes are ischemic.
- Burst vessel or hemorrhagic stroke: Caused by a ruptured blood vessel, preventing normal flow and allowing blood to leak into brain tissue, destroying it. This occurs in 20% of strokes.
Stroke is a common and often misunderstood condition and its early symptoms are often ignored. Some brain cells deprived of oxygen die within minutes. Others may take a few hours to die depending on the nature of the blockage or hemorrhage. When part of the brain dies from lack of blood flow, the part of the body it controls is affected. Strokes can cause paralysis, affect language and vision, and cause other problems. The loss of physical and mental functions is often permanent and can include motor-function disability. The most effective treatment for stroke can be administered if it is within three hours of the onset of stroke but to receive them, one must recognize the warning signs and act quickly.
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