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Understanding Stroke

  • If you have had a stroke or are caring for someone who had a stroke, Allina Health can help.

    This manual includes information that you or your loved ones need to know. Ask your doctor, nurse or therapist about which topics apply to your current situation.

    Check all that apply:

    high blood pressure



    atrial fibrillation


    high LDL ("bad" cholesterol)

    alcohol or drug use

    history of heart disease, stroke or TIA

    Learn about stroke risk factors you can and cannot control.

    Act FAST

    Face - Smile. Does one side droop?

    Arms - Is one side weak or numb?

    Speech - Is your speech slurred? Are you unable to repeat a sentence?

    Time - Call 911 if you have any symptoms.

    When should I call 911?

    What is a stroke?

    A stroke results when blood and oxygen flow to the brain is stopped or interrupted. This happens because of a ruptured or blocked blood vessel. If you have any stroke warning signs, call 911 right away.

    Transient ischemic attacks - TIAs or "mini-strokes" - are caused by a temporary loss of blood flow to a part of the brain. TIAs cause the same symptoms as a stroke. Symptoms usually go away within minutes or a few hours.

    Like a stroke, TIAs require medical attention right away. In some cases, TIAs occur before a stroke.

    How is stroke treated?

    Treatment depends on the type of stroke and how severe it was. The health care team will decide which tests and procedures to do during your or your loved one's hospital stay.

    How do you recover from stroke?

    A stroke can cause long-lasting changes that can affect everyday activities. Recovery often includes rehabilitation and medicines.

    Your health care team will make recommendations right for you or your loved one. Resources and support groups are available for caregivers.

  • Source: Allina Health Patient Education, Understanding Stroke: Information about Stroke and Recovery, fourth edition, ISBN 1-931876-13-4
    Reviewed by: Allina Health Patient Education experts
    First published: 02/01/2006
    Last reviewed: 04/02/2013