A stroke is a sudden interruption or reduction in the blood flow to your brain. It is a medical emergency that requires immediate treatment to reduce the risk of death or long-term disability. 

Strokes are the fifth-leading cause of death in the United States and the leading cause of long-term disability, but up to 80% of strokes could be prevented by making lifestyle changes and managing chronic conditions.*

What is a stroke?

There are three main types of stroke:

  • Ischemic stroke: This stroke occurs when a blood clot blocks a blood vessel that supplies blood to the brain.
  • Hemorrhagic stroke: This life-threatening stroke is the result of a ruptured or leaking blood vessel in the brain, which causes bleeding into the brain. There are two types of hemorrhagic stroke, intracerebral hemorrhage (bleeding within the brain tissue) and subarachnoid hemorrhage (bleeding into the space around the brain). 
  • Transient ischemic attack: Also  known as TIA, this mini stroke happens when blood doesn’t flow to the brain for a short period of time. Symptoms may go away quickly, but TIA leaves you with a greater risk of developing a major stroke. 

Stroke risk factors

Strokes affect all populations and all age groups, but certain medical conditions and habits can put you at a higher risk for a stroke. One-third of Americans have
at least one of the following stroke risk factors:

If you lower your blood pressure, cholesterol, or the number on your scale, you can lower your risk of stroke. Quitting smoking and properly managing your diabetes with your health team can also help reduce your risk.

the five signs of a stroke include facial drooping, body weakness, off balance, trouble speaking, and vision problems

Stroke symptoms

It’s crucial to know the signs and symptoms of a stroke so you or a loved one can get treatment as soon as possible. Delaying treatment makes recovery harder and leaves patients with a higher chance of long-term brain damage and disability.  

Stroke symptoms can include one or all of the following:

  • Difficulty balancing
  • Changes in eyesight
  • Weakness or drooping in the face
  • Weakness in the arm
  • Difficulty speaking


Learn more about stroke prevention and treatment to save a life.

How a stroke is diagnosed

When patients experience stroke symptoms, it is crucial to receive an accurate diagnosis so they can start being treated as soon as possible. Strokes can be diagnosed using a computerized tomography (CT) scan or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Some other tests may include a physical exam, blood tests, an ultrasound of the neck, or an echocardiogram. 

Get expert stroke treatment at AHN 

AHN Stroke Centers are specially equipped to treat cerebrovascular diseases (related to the brain and blood vessels) and strokes. There are certified centers located throughout western Pennsylvania and Erie. In addition to treating stroke conditions, they also focus on neuroscience research that explores new diagnostic tools, medications, and surgical advances for strokes. 

Contact us

To schedule an appointment or learn more about AHN neuroscience services,
call (412) 359-8850.

If you're an existing patient, you can also call (412) DOCTORS (412) 362-8677 in Pittsburgh or request an appointment with AHN neuroscience services.