Stroke is a major medical emergency. Also called a brain attack, stroke occurs when blood flow to the brain is disrupted, depriving it of oxygen and nutrients for proper function. It is caused by a blood clot, or a ruptured artery or blood vessel. When this disruption occurs, brain cells begin to die immediately at the rate of about two millions cells per minute, causing permanent damage, disability and death.
Stroke is the fifth leading cause of death in the US, attacking nearly 800,000 people each year — killing nearly 130,000. It can occur at any age, including infants and children, with the likelihood nearly doubling each decade after age 55.