What is commonly referred to as a "stroke" is a block in the blood flow to any area of the brain. When the blood flow is blocked or decreased, oxygen needed to maintain proper function in the brain is also decreased or blocked. A stroke may also be known by many other names including:
- CVA – cerebral vascular accident
- Ischemic attack or stroke
- Cerebral hemorrhage
- Cerebral infarction
- Brain attack
When blood and oxygen are unable to flow to certain areas of the brain or when a vessel ruptures and blood flows into certain areas of the brain, brain cells die and can be temporarily or permanently damaged causing a variety of effects.
Men are more likely to have a stroke than women, but pregnant women and women who take birth control pills and smoke have a higher incidence of stroke.