What is a stroke?

A stroke is a brain attack

Outline of a person's face and neck, illustration of the brainFor your brain to function, it needs a constant blood supply, which provides vital nutrients and oxygen to the brain cells. A stroke happens when the blood supply to part of the brain is cut off and brain cells are damaged or die.

 

About a third of people who have a stroke make a significant recovery within a month. But most stroke survivors will have long-term problems. It may take a year or longer for them to make the best possible recovery. Sadly, in the most severe cases, strokes can be fatal or cause long-term disability.

Strokes are sudden and have an immediate effect

A person may become numb, weak or paralysed on one side of the body. They may slur their speech and find it difficult to find words or understand speech. Some people lose their sight or have blurred vision, and others become confused or unsteady.

A stroke can damage mind and body

Strokes affect people in different ways, depending on the part of the brain that is affected, how widespread the damage is and how healthy the person was before the stroke. But strokes can damage:

  • bodily functions
  • our thought processes
  • our ability to learn, and
  • how we feel and communicate.

Recovering from a stroke takes time

About a third of people who have a stroke make a significant recovery within a month. But most stroke survivors will have long-term problems. It may take a year or longer for them to make the best possible recovery. Sadly, in the most severe cases, strokes can be fatal or cause long-term disability.

A stroke is always a medical emergency

It is important to be able to recognise the symptoms of a stroke and to get help immediately.

Find out more

There are different types of stroke

Who is at risk of stroke?

Stroke can happen to anyone of any age - including children and babies

You can now listen to our What is a stroke? information leaflet via the audio links below:

What is a Stroke? by Stroke Association

 

Read our publications:
What is a stroke?
What is a stroke? - Welsh

Useful links:
NHS Choices Information Prescription
Patient UK
Dr Foster