About stroke

Learn about stroke and its causes.

What is a stroke?

A stroke happens when blood flow to a part of the brain stops. Brain cells in the injured area become damaged or die.

A stroke can happen when a blood:

  • vessel in the brain tears, causing bleeding in the brain
  • clot (thickened blood) travels to the brain, stopping the flow of blood to brain cells
    • this is the most common type of stroke

During a stroke, brain cells die and the body parts they control are affected. The health effects of a stroke depend on the size of the clot and area of the brain that was damaged.

Some people experience what is called a mini-stroke. This is when a blood vessel becomes briefly blocked by a small clot and you are affected for less than 24 hours.

Stroke is a life-threatening health problem. Men and women are about equally affected. However, more women than men having survived a stroke die every year because they tend to live longer than men do.

Stroke is the third leading cause of adult disability and death in Canada. But it is a highly preventable health problem.

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