This site provides basic information. For more information on Stroke, visit the National Stroke Association at

What is a Stroke?

A stroke occurs when there is an interruption of the normal blood flow to the brain, due to a blockage or rupture of a blood vessel. Without the normal flow of oxygen-rich blood, brain cells start to die. Stroke can cause disability and death.


Stroke is the third-leading cause of death in the United States.

In Massachusetts, 2.5% of adults aged 35 and older have had a stroke.

Stroke is a leading cause of long-term disability

  • Without prompt treatment, 62% of people who have a stroke will have moderate-to-severe impairment
  • $58 billion will be spent this year on stroke-related medical and disability costs
  • Stroke can cause the loss of ability to walk, talk, see, make facial expressions, shower and dress, use the bathroom by oneself, feed oneself, read and write, and drive

Signs and Symptoms

Stroke Heroes Act FAST!

Remember the major signs of stroke by knowing "FAST:"

FAST signs

FAST stands for Face, Arm, Speech, and Time:

· Face:Does the face look uneven? Ask the person to smile.
· Arm:Does one arm drift down? Ask the person to raise both arms.
· Speech:Does their speech sound strange? Ask the person to repeat a simple phrase.
· Time:If you observe any of these symptoms, call 9-1-1 immediately.

CALL 9-1-1 IMMEDIATELY if you or someone you know is experiencing these symptoms!

For free FAST materials, including adaptations in Spanish, Portuguese, and Khmer, go to

Download the "Learn the Signs of Stroke" PPT

How Can I Reduce my Chances of Having a Stroke?

Although the risk of stroke is sometimes caused by factors that are out of your control, such as genetics, there are some things you can do that may help prevent a stroke:

  • Prevent or control high cholesterol and high blood pressure
  • Prevent or control diabetes
  • Avoid tobacco and secondhand smoke
  • If you drink alcohol, do so in moderation
  • Exercise regularly
  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Eat a healthy diet

To Learn More About Stoke, Visit these Sites

This information is provided by the Division of Prevention and Wellness within the Department of Public Health.