Canadian Stroke Network
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Canadian Stroke Network

What is a stroke?

A stroke is a brain attack. It occurs when blood flow to the brain is interrupted or when a blood vessel ruptures. Cells in and around the stroke site begin to die and part of the brain stops working. Basic functions, such as communicating, walking, thinking, and personality, may be changed.

Stroke is the LEADING cause of adult disability in Canada and third leading cause of death.

What are the symptoms?

Stroke symptoms include sudden:

  • Numbness / weakness
  • Confusion / impaired speech
  • Loss of vision
  • Dizziness / loss of balance
  • Severe headache

What do I do if I experience these symptoms?

Call 9-1-1 and get to a hospital emergency room as quickly as possible.

Being able to recognize a stroke is the first key to survival.

It is essential that the onset of stroke be treated immediately. New medications and clot-busting drugs, if administered quickly, can reverse the damage of stroke within the first three hours of an attack.

One hour could make the difference of a lifetime.

Can I prevent a stroke?

Yes, stroke is the most preventable and prevalent neurological disease. Risk factors of stroke include high blood pressure, obesity, smoking, heart disease, high cholesterol, diabetes, sedentary lifestyle and a previous history of stroke. Visit your family doctor to assess your risk of stroke and to establish a prevention plan. Ask your doctor:

  • What are my risk factors for stroke, and what can I do to lower my risk?
  • What is my blood pressure?
  • What is my cholesterol level?
  • Should I lose weight?
  • Should I start an exercise program?
  • What resources are available? Is there a dedicated stroke unit in my community hospital?

Risk-assessment tools are also available on the Heart and Stroke Foundation Canada. Stroke affects men, women and children of all ages. Education is the first step towards prevention.

Where can I get more information?

Stroke: A Comprehensive Guide to Brain Attacks is an excellent book for the lay reader and provides a comprehensive look at stroke.  It was written by Canadian Stroke Network researcher Dr. Vladimir Hachinski and Larissa Hachinski. The book can be purchased at

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