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Facts About Stroke

Back to 2001 Curriculum. 


For the human brain to function at peak levels, blood must flow through its many vessels. If blood flow is obstructed to any part, the brain loses its energy supply and becomes injured. If blood is obstructed for more than several minutes, the brain cells' injury becomes permanent and tissue dies in the affected region. The loss or alteration of bodily function that results from an insufficient supply of blood to part of the brain is called a stroke.

Know the warning signs!

  • Sudden numbness or weakness of the face, arm or leg, especially on one side of the body
  • Sudden confusion, trouble speaking or understanding
  • Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination
  • Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes
  • Sudden severe headache with no known cause

Every 53 seconds, someone in America has a stroke. About 600,000 Americans will have a stroke this year – and 160,000 of them will die. In fact, stroke is our nation’s No. 3 killer and one of the leading causes of disability. But we're fighting back. The American Heart Association spends more on stroke-related research and stroke-related programs than any other not-for-profit organization, second only to the federal government. In November 1998, the American Heart Association renamed its Stroke Division. It is now the American Stroke Association…a division of the American Heart Association.


  • Stroke is the third leading cause of death in the United States after diseases of the heart and all forms of cancer. About 600,000 Americans have strokes each year. Someone has a stroke every 53 seconds.

  • Someone dies of a stroke every 3.3 minutes.

  • Stroke is also one of the leading causes of serious, long-term disability and accounts for more than half of all patients. hospitalized for neurological disease that strikes quickly.

  • About 4.5 million stroke survivors are alive today . (2.2 million are male; 2.3 million are female.)

  • Stroke costs the United States $30 to $40 billion per year.