Stroke is nothing if not fast. Each year, as many as 750,000 people in the United States suffer a sudden and unexpected attack of the brain. When part of the brain is deprived of oxygen — which is what is happening when stroke hits — it doesn’t take long for the catastrophe to make itself evident. A minute or less.
Whether it’s a sudden inability to speak, the crash of a dish from a hand that can no longer grasp, or loss of consciousness, a brain attack strikes its victims quickly and powerfully and without warning. Or does it? Although your stroke may occur in a lightning flash, it has most likely been years in the making, with conditions such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, obesity, and diabetes possibly serving as warning signs that the brain is in danger. Basically, as these conditions cause wear and tear on your blood vessels, your risks increase of suffering either a blockage or rupture of a brain artery. And — suddenly — you’re in stroke mode.
So how does it happen? It starts with the brain.