May is National Stroke Awareness Month. It is a time to highlight the signs and symptoms of a stroke and how to act. Stroke is a leading cause of death in Indiana and is a major cause of serious disability for adults.

The brain relies on arteries to deliver oxygen-rich blood to the brain and uses 20 percent of the oxygen we breathe. A stroke happens when there is a blockage of blood supply to the brain. It also occurs when a blood vessel in the brain bursts and there is bleeding in the brain. When this happens, the brain tissue starts to die within minutes due to a lack of oxygen. Strokes can lead to permanent brain damage and long-term disability, aside from death.

Virginia Aparicio is a health and human sciences educator with Purdue Extension Elkhart County. She can be reached at 574-533-0554 or

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