Stroke and Cerebrovascular Team

Comprehensive stroke & Cerebrovascular center

Time is brain - Know what a stroke is and what to do

If you experience stroke symptoms, or see them in someone else, call 9-1-1 IMMEDIATELY.

Stroke brochure
Download the MUSC Comprehensive Stroke & Cerebrovascular Center Patient Brochure

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, stroke is now the fourth leading cause of death, following heart disease, cancer and chronic lower respiratory disease. We are making headway in the fight against stroke but still have a long way to go. Stroke is still the third leading cause of death in South Carolina and, according to a recent DHEC report, almost half of the stroke survivors in the state are under the age of 65.

Stoke and its impact:
Each year in the United States, there are more than 700,000 strokes. Stroke is the fourth leading cause of death in the country, and stroke causes more serious long-term disabilities than any other disease.

South Carolina has the highest stroke death rate of all states in the country - and has maintained this distinction for 5 decades. North Carolina has the 4th highest stroke death rate, and Georgia has the 5th highest (

For African Americans, stroke is more common and more deadly even in young and middle-aged adults than for any ethnic or other racial group in the United States. Learning about stroke can help you act in time to save a co-worker, friend, or relative. And making changes in your lifestyle can help you prevent stroke.

What is Stroke?
A stroke is serious, just like a heart attack. A stroke is sometimes called a “brain attack.” Most often, stroke occurs when blood flow to the brain stops because it is blocked by a clot. The brain cells in the immediate area begin to die because they stop getting oxygen and nutrients they need to function.

What kinds of stroke are there?
There are two kinds of stroke. The most common kind of stroke, called ischemic stroke, is caused by a blood clot that blocks or plugs a blood vessel in the brain. The other kind of stroke, called hemorrhagic stroke, is caused by a blood vessel that breaks and bleeds into the brain.

What are the risk factors that make you more likely to have a stroke?

  • High blood pressure - It's a leading cause of stroke.
  • Diabetes - People with diabetes have two to four times the risk of having a stroke than someone without diabetes.
  • Heart disease - Heart disease is the second most important risk factor for stroke, and the major cause of death among survivors of stroke.
  • Age - The chance of having a stroke doubles for each decade after 55.
  • Heredity and race - Your stroke risk is much greater if a parent, grandparent or sibling had had a stroke. African Americans have a much higher risk of death due to stroke than do Caucasians.
For additional risk factors, visit our health library.

What disabilities can result from stroke?
Stroke damage in the brain can affect the entire body, resulting in mild to severe disabilities. These include paralysis, problems with thinking, problems with speaking, and emotional problems.

Treatment Options:
New treatments are available that greatly reduce the damage caused by a stroke. But you need to arrive at the hospital within 60 minutes after symptoms start to prevent disability. Knowing stroke symptoms,      calling 9-1-1 immediately, and getting to a hospital are critical.

Stroke Symptoms:

  • 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 seeing in one or both eyes
  • Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination
  • Sudden severe headache with no known cause

Know what to do:
If you experience stroke symptoms, or see them in someone else, call 9-1-1 IMMEDIATELY. Treatment must be given very soon after the onset of symptoms to minimize damage to the brain. Treatment options vary on the type, severity and location of the stroke.


American Stroke Association

Content References:
National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke
Tri-State Stroke Network

stroke videos

Community Blog - Neurosciences


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