• A
  • A
  • A

Stroke is the third leading cause of death in this country. The major cause of stroke is disease in the carotid arteries, which supply blood to the brain. Stroke from hardening of the arteries (atherosclerosis) may be prevented by surgical intervention (carotid endarterectomy).

The term stroke actually refers to a large range of diseases, the usual result of which is the sudden onset of symptoms; from mild weakness of an arm or leg to loss of speech, paralysis, coma, and death. Many people with this disease have no symptoms. A serious problem, TIAs (transient ischemic attacks, often called "mini-strokes") are strokes, but the symptoms last less than 24 hours.

A TIA is a big warning that a major stroke is in your future. This is not something to take lightly. Although these events are often called "mini-strokes" and shrugged off by patients and even some doctors, they should not be ignored. For 1 in 3 people, a TIA will result in a full-blown stroke within five years, if left untreated. Usually the strokes occur within a few days or a weeks of the TIA. The buildup of plaques in the carotid or vertebral arteries happens over time, and there are usually no symptoms until the narrowing reaches a critical state.

Stroke Symptoms

  • Sudden weakness or numbness
  • Sudden confusion or language problems
  • Sudden change in vision
  • Sudden dizziness or imbalance

For an excellent online resource on stroke, see the Heart and Stroke Encyclopedia.


Stony Brook Medicine Heart Institute

For additional information, please call (631) 444-4000.