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Facts About Stroke – Part 1 Questions and answers from an expert Q: What is a stroke? A: Stroke is a disease that affects the arteries leading to and within the brain. It is the fifth most common cause of death and a leading cause of disability in the U.S. Someone in the United States has a stroke every 40 seconds. And every four minutes, someone dies of a stroke. Q: What causes a stroke? A: A stroke occurs when a blood vessel that carries oxygen and nutrients to the brain is either blocked by a clot or ruptures. When that happens, part of the brain cannot get the blood and oxygen it needs, so brain cells die, increasing your risk of permanent brain damage, disability or death. The good news is that 80% of strokes are preventable. Q: Is there more than one type of stroke? A: There are two main types of strokes: ischemic and hemorrhagic. About 87% of strokes are ischemic, which is when blood flow to the brain is blocked. Ischemic strokes are generally caused by a blood clot or a chunk of plaque buildup that floats around the body and finds its way to the brain, or blockage of a small artery due to arterial disease. Hemorrhagic stroke is a bleeding type of stroke where a blood vessel in the brain bursts. Q: What are the signs and symptoms of a stroke? A: The acronym BE FAST can help identify the early stages of a stroke and remind you what to do: (B) Are you having trouble keeping your balance? (E) Do you have blurred eyesight or vision loss? (F) Is one side of your face drooping? (A) Are you unable to raise both arms? (S) Is your speech slurred? (T) It’s time to call 911. Symptoms can also appear in other, less recognizable ways. Signs include sudden nausea or vomiting that is not caused by an illness or a brief loss of consciousness like fainting, seizures or coma. Q: Why does time matter? A: A quick response can make all the difference for your brain. Oftentimes, it only takes 5-6 minutes to start losing neurons. Two million neurons can die every minute. The faster you can spot a stroke and seek help, the sooner a doctor can treat it. Q: What do you do if you spot a stroke? A: Call 911 at the first sign of a stroke and get to your nearest emergency room. A rapid response from a skilled stroke specialist can make all the difference in protecting you. Quick intervention is vital for the best possible recovery. David Henzler, MD David Henzler, MD, is a boardcertified neurology specialist at Sanford Health Northern Sky Clinic in Bismarck. Dr. Henzler completed his medical degree at University of Kansas Medical in Kansas City, Kansas, and completed his residency at the University of Iowa in Iowa City, Iowa. To request an appointment with Dr. Henzler, call (701) 323-5422.