What is stroke, and what does it look like?

They say knowing the signs of stroke can save your life or someone else's. Would you know the signs?

The National Stroke Association defines a stroke is a brain attack that occurs when a blood clot blocks an artery, or a blood vessel breaks, interrupting the flow of blood to the brain. When either of these things occurs, brain cells die, causing brain damage. This is how a stroke happens.

But what does it looks like to someone in the presence of an individual experiencing a stroke? The person's face may look uneven. She may slur her speech or speak in strange syntax. She also may experience numbness or loss of movement in her arm or leg. Dizziness, loss of balance, sudden headache and blurred vision also are signs of stroke.

Acting fast after the first signs of stroke is critical to helping prevent long-term brain damage and disability.

Stroke is largely preventable

The good news is that nearly 80 percent of strokes are preventable. There are things you can do in your daily life to lower your risk of having a stroke, such as keeping your cholesterol and blood pressure in check, and managing your diabetes, if you are diabetic. Quitting smoking, maintaining a healthy weight and limiting your alcohol consumption all are things you can do to help prevent stroke from happening to you.

Through our education and patient stories, and with the help and guidance of the talented physicians and health care professionals at Providence Brain and Spine Institute, we are your trusted partner in preventing - and treating - stroke.

Know your risks. Know the signs. Save a life.