Quick Facts

Stroke is a sudden loss of brain function. It is caused by a disruption in blood flow to a part of the brain. It occurs when the blood vessel either ruptures or becomes blocked. A stroke deprives the neurons and other brain cells of glucose and oxygen, which leads to cell death. The longer the brain is deprived of oxygen and nutrients, the higher the likelihood of permanent damage to the brain.

Stroke results in permanent death of one region of the brain – it is a form of permanent brain damage. The effects of a stroke depend on the location and severity of damage.

Stroke is a medical emergency. An average of 1.9 million brain cells die every minute after a stroke. Treatments for acute ischemic stroke vary, but include: clot-busting drugs or advanced endovascular treatment in appropriately selected patients. Acting quickly can improve survival and recovery. Time is Brain!

Impact of Stroke

  • At least every 30 minutes, one new stroke occurs in Ontario
  • More than 5, 500 (22%) people in Ontario die within one year of their stroke

For every 100 persons who experience a stroke:

  • 15 die (15%)
  • 10 recover completely (10%)
  • 25 recover with a minor impairment or disability (25%)
  • 40 are left with a moderate to severe impairment (40%)
  • 10 are so severely disabled they require long-term care (10%)


The type of stroke can be determined by the clinical symptoms.


A brain CT scan is required to determine if the stroke is ischemic (caused by a blood clot) or hemorrhagic.

Types of Stroke

There are two types of strokes: ischemic (80-85% of all strokes) and hemorrhagic (15-20% of all strokes).

Ischemic Stroke

An ischemic stroke is caused by interruption in blood flow due to sudden blockage of a brain artery.

Hemorrhagic Stroke

A hemorrhagic stroke is caused by rupture of a brain artery leading to bleeding into the brain or into the spaces around the brain.


There is no urgency to treating stroke.


Patients with suspected acute stroke should receive rapid assessment and undergo brain imaging on arrival to determine eligibility for the intravenous drug tPA (tissue-plasminogen activator).

If the stroke was caused by a blood clot, the person may benefit from a thrombolytic drug called tPA. This intravenous medication can re-open blocked arteries which reduces the severity of the stroke. tPA must be given as soon as possible and within four and a half hours from the start of symptoms. tPA, also known as the “clot buster” is given intravenously.

More brain is saved, the earlier the blocked artery is re-opened. TIME is BRAIN!


If you or someone with you experience signs of stroke, you can wait for someone to take you to the Emergency Department.


If you or someone with you experiences any signs of stroke, call 9-1-1 or your local emergency number immediately. Do not drive yourself or the person having a stroke to the hospital – an ambulance will get you to the best hospital for stroke care. Acting quickly can improve your survival and recovery.


Transient Ischemic Attack (TIA) does not require immediate medical attention.


It is important to seek medical attention for TIA. The stroke symptoms may reoccur. In fact the highest risk of stroke after TIA is 48 hrs.

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