What is a Stroke?

Stroke is the leading cause of adult disability in Canada, and the third leading cause of death. Nearly 14,000 Canadians die from stroke each year, with a new stroke occurring every 10 minutes.

What is a stroke?

A stroke occurs when blood stops flowing to any part of your brain, damaging brain cells. The effects of a stroke depend on the part of the brain damaged and the amount of damage done.

Stroke is a medical emergency. If you or someone with you is experiencing the signs of a stroke, it is critical that you call 911 or your local emergency number immediately.

Types of Stroke


Ischemic strokes are caused by a blockage or clot in a blood vessel in the brain. This blockage can occur as a result of a substance called plaque which has built up on the inside wall of an artery.

Hemorrhagic strokes occur when an artery in the brain bursts open. The interrupted blood flow that results from this burst artery causes damage to the brain. High blood pressure weakens arteries over time and is a major cause of hemorrhagic stroke. IIf you have high blood pressure, speak to your physician about ways to manage it.

Transient ischemic attacks (TIA) are caused my a small clot that briefly blocks an artery. You may have heard these strokes called 'mini-strokes' or 'warning strokes'. Although no lasting damage occurs, TIAs are an important warning that a more serious stroke may occur soon, and should be brought to the attention of your physician immediately.

Learn what to do.

The treatment of stroke varies based on the type of stroke, how serious it was, age, general health, and how quickly a stroke victim arrives at the hospital. Recognising the signs of a stroke and acting FAST can help save a life.

According to Heart and Stroke, nine in ten Canadians have at least one risk factor for stroke, however, lifestyle changes can reduce your risk. To learn more, visit Heart and Stroke online.

Take a free risk assessment.

If you're interested in better understanding your risk of stroke or heart attack, you can take the free risk assessment available at Heart and Stroke online. Print the results of the Questionnaire to bring to your next doctor's appointment to give you a great starting point to address any concerns you may have.