A stroke, also known as cerebrovascular accident (CVA), occurs when the blood supply to part of the brain is disrupted, causing brain cells to die. When blood flow to the brain is impaired, the brain cannot receive oxygen and glucose. Impairment can result from narrowing blood vessels, blood clots, inflammation of blood vessels, hardening of the arteries, embolism from the heart, abnormal formation of blood vessels and bleeding from blood vessels. According to the National Stroke Association (NSA), it is estimated that 795,000 strokes occurred in the United States in 2010.

The majority of strokes, 76 percent, are new strokes. However, of the total amount of strokes per year in the U.S., approximately 185,000 occur in people who have had at least one other stroke in their lifetime. In this country, stroke is the third leading cause of death, behind heart-related cardiovascular disease (CVD) and cancer. It is estimated that over 137,000 people died due to strokes in 2010, but the condition often seriously disables any who survive. As much as 30 percent of stroke survivors lose their independence because of permanent disability.

On average, a stroke occurs in the U.S. every 40 seconds and claims a life every 4 minutes. Strokes account for about one out of every 18 deaths in America. Over the years, it has been discovered that strokes occur in women more often than men, and by a fairly significant margin. As of 2006, it was estimated that 6.4 million people suffered a stroke in this country. Whereas men accounted for approximately 2.5 million of that total, 3.9 million women in the U.S. have suffered a stroke. That equates to around 60 percent of all occurrences.

Although usually referred to simply as strokes, there are several different forms of the condition that can occur. These include lacunar stroke, thrombotic stroke, embolic stroke, cerebral hemorrhage, subarachnoid hemorrhage, cerebral vasculitis and transient ischemic attack.
Some of the common risk factors for a stroke are high blood pressure, high cholesterol, smoking, diabetes mellitus and increasing age. Some of the symptoms for stroke include sudden weakness or numbness in certain areas of the body, confusion, trouble seeing, trouble walking and severe headaches.
Strokes are medical emergencies. If any symptoms of a stroke are apparent, do not hesitate to seek medical help immediately, especially if you are at increased risk of having a stroke.