Each year, about 500,000 Americans suffer a stroke; about 158,000 die, making stroke the third-leading cause of death and the leading cause of disability.
Here are the facts:
* A stroke is a sudden interruption of blood flow to the brain, caused by a clogged or ruptured blood vessel.
* There are two main types: ischemic strokes, caused by a blockage--usually a clot--in an artery to the brain, and the less-common hemorrhagic strokes, resulting from a head injury or an aneurysm (a weak spot that balloons out from the blood vessel wall).
* Risk factors include high blood pressure, heart disease, smoking, diabetes and obesity. Risk of stroke rises with age and is higher in men and African Americans.