It's easy to take for granted the most basic human skills until they are compromised. Think of the host of skills and abilities you've fine-tuned over your lifetime: walking, eating, writing, typing, speaking, reading. These are things we do every day with minimal effort — they feel like second nature.
And yet, in an instant, they can disappear. That's what happens when you have a stroke: the mind and body you've trained over the course of a lifetime suddenly don't respond the way they should.
This change occurs because blood flow to an area of the brain is disrupted by a blood clot that is blocking an artery, or by a blood vessel that has burst. Suddenly, you're confused. Your vision is foggy. Your face and arms are drooping. You want to yell for help, but the words don't come out right.
When these common signals of stroke appear, time is critical. It is imperative to call 911 and get to the hospital, because the most effective treatments for 80 percent of strokes must be administered within a few hours of the onset of symptoms.
If you have survived a stroke, you're not alone. More than six million people in the U.S. today have survived a stroke — and two-thirds of them are disabled. Stroke is the third-leading cause of death in the U.S., and the leading cause of serious long-term disability.