Stroke is the third most common cause of death after heart disease and cancer. While you may be aware of the symptoms of a heart attack and the importance of calling 999 if you suspect one, a stroke is the equivalent of a ‘brain attack’ and so requires prompt action too - so call 999
What happens when you have a stroke?
A stroke is caused when the blood supply to your brain is suddenly cut off or reduced.
As a result, brain cells are deprived of oxygen and other nutrients in the blood and this quickly causes damage or death to cells in affected parts of the brain.
There are two types of Ischemic stroke: this is caused when a blood clot blocks a main artery in your brain. Around 80% of strokes are of this type.
Hemorrhagic stroke: this is caused when a weakened artery in your brain bursts. This allows blood to seep out and press on your brain. It also prevents blood and oxygen reaching other parts of the brain.
The effects of a stroke depend on: how long your brain is deprived of oxygen whereabouts in your brain the artery becomes blocked or bursts and the functions of the affected part of the brain.
Transient Ischaemic Attack (TIA) A ‘mini’ stroke or to use its medical term - transient ischemic attack (TIA) has similar symptoms to a stroke but they may last only a few minutes or hours and disappear completely within 24 hours.
However as the symptoms are so similar there is no way of knowing at first if you are having a stroke or a TIA, so call 999.
A TIA may be a warning sign of a more serious stroke to come. If your symptoms pass quickly and you don't call 999, call your GP practice as soon as possible and explain what happened, so you can ask for an urgent appointment to see your GP.