To work properly, your brain needs oxygen. Although your brain makes up only 2% of your body weight, it uses 20% of the oxygen you breathe.1 Your arteries deliver oxygen-rich blood to all parts of your brain.
What Happens During a Stroke
If something happens to interrupt the flow of blood, brain cells start to die within minutes because they can’t get oxygen. This is called a stroke. Sudden bleeding in the brain also can cause a stroke if it damages brain cells. A stroke can cause lasting brain damage, long-term disability, or even death.
If brain cells die or are damaged because of a stroke, symptoms of that damage start to show in the parts of the body controlled by those brain cells.
Quick Treatment Is Critical for Stroke
A stroke is a serious medical condition that requires emergency care. Call 9-1-1 immediately if you or someone you are with shows any signs of a stroke.
Learn more about the types of stroke, the signs and symptoms of a stroke, what treatments are available for stroke, and what happens after a stroke.
The following are downloadable fact sheets about stroke and related conditions:
- Signs and Symptoms of Stroke
- Heart Disease
- Atrial Fibrillation
- High Cholesterol
- High Blood Pressure
- National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. The Brain: Our Sense of Self (Teacher's Guide). Web site. Accessed December 4, 2013.
- Page last reviewed: December 6, 2013
- Page last updated: December 6, 2013
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