Know the Signs and Symptoms of a Stroke

About Stroke

A stroke or cerebrovascular accident occurs when the blood supply to the brain is cut off (an ischemic stroke) or when a blood vessel bursts (a hemorrhagic stroke). Most strokes are of the ischemic type. Without oxygen, brain cells begin to die. Death or permanent disability can result. High blood pressure, smoking, and having had a previous stroke or heart attack increase a person’s chances of having a stroke.

Stroke is the fifth leading cause of death in the United Sates. In 2014, stroke killed more than 133,000 people, accounting for about 1 of every 20 deaths in the United States. According to the American Heart Association, about 795,000 people in the United States suffer a stroke each year (about 610,000 first attacks and 185,000 recurrent attacks). Four million Americans who have survived a stroke are living with impairments and 15% to 30% are permanently disabled. The American Heart Association also estimates that stroke cost about $33 billion in both direct and indirect costs in 2011 in the United States alone.

With timely treatment, the risk of death and disability from stroke can be lowered. It is very important to know the symptoms of a stroke and act in time.

CDC’s Public Health Efforts Related to Stroke

Stroke Networks
Stroke networks allow state health departments and their partners to share and coordinate prevention activities and advocacy strategies. CDC supports—

Atlas of Stroke Mortality: Racial, Ethnic, and Geographic Disparities in the United States
This publication presents an extensive series of national and state maps depicting disparities in county–level stroke death rates for the five largest U.S. racial and ethnic groups. This information will help health professionals and concerned citizens tailor prevention policies and programs to communities with the greatest burden of stroke.

More Information

Signs of a Stroke

The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke notes these major signs of stroke:

  • Sudden numbness or weakness of the face, arms or legs.
  • Sudden confusion or trouble speaking or understanding others.
  • Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes.
  • Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, or loss of balance or coordination.
  • Sudden severe headache with no known cause.

If you think someone is having a stroke, you should call 9-1-1 immediately.


  1. American Heart Association. Heart Disease and Stroke Statistics — 2004 Update. Dallas, TX: AHA, 2003. Available at
  2. National Center for Health Statistics. Health, United States, 2003 Chartbook on the Health of Americans. Hyattsville, MD: Department of Health and Human Services, 2003. Available at