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Stroke is a Medical Emergency. Call 911.

Stroke is a type of cardiovascular disease that affects the arteries leading to and within the brain. A stroke occurs when a blood vessel that carries oxygen and nutrients to the brain is either blocked by a clot or bursts. Time is critical in stroke treatment. The faster you are taken to an emergency room, the better your chance for a positive outcome.

Stroke Strikes F.A.S.T.

Not sure whether a person's symptoms are a stroke? Act F.A.S.T. and quickly take these steps.

  • Face – Ask the person to smile
  • Arm – Ask the person to raise both arms
  • Speech – Ask the person to speak a simple sentence
  • Time – Difficulty or impossible to complete one or more of these tasks? Call 911 now!

If you experience or see someone with these warning signs, call 911 immediately:

  • Sudden numbness or weakness of the face, arm, or leg (especially on one side of the body)
  • Sudden confusion, trouble speaking, or trouble understanding speech
  • Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes
  • Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination
  • Sudden unexplained, severe headache

What Is a Stroke?

Strokes are aptly referred to as a "brain attack." When there is an interruption of blood flow to the brain, either because of a clot or ruptured blood vessel, sudden brain damage occurs.

A person who is having a stroke requires immediate medical attention. The longer it takes to receive care, the more brain cells will die and the greater the risk of disability or even death.

Two Types of Stroke

Ischemic StrokeIschemic stroke is most common and accounts for 87 percent of strokes. Ischemic stroke is caused by a clot that prevents blood flow to the brain. The clot can either travel to the brain from another part of the body or can develop in an artery.

Hemorrhagic StrokeHemorrhagic stroke is a second type of stroke which occurs when a blood vessel in the brain breaks or ruptures. Hemorrhagic stroke is less common, but it's more deadly.

Because stroke is a life-threatening condition, treatment must be initiated as quickly as possible. The sooner a patient is transported to an emergency room where treatment can begin, the better the odds for a positive outcome.

Treatment for stroke can include one or more of the following:


Rehabilitation is often part of the recovery process for stroke patients. Inova Rehabilitation Center at Inova Mount Vernon Hospital is regionally known for its rehabilitation program for patients recovering from stroke and other cerebrovascular conditions.

The Inova Stroke and Cerebrovascular Disease Program specializes in treatment for stroke and other vascular disease. For more information, call 703-776-4700.

Support Groups

Inova offers several stroke support groups to help stroke survivors and their family members during and after the rehabilitation process. The support groups are free. Learn more about Inova's stroke support groups