(CNN) -- A stroke is a very scary thing: A vessel carrying blood to the brain becomes blocked or bursts, leaving the brain deprived of the essential oxygen and nutrients it needs to survive. In the minutes following a stroke, brain cells begin to die.
Strokes are the No. 1 cause of disability and the No. 4 cause of death in the United States, according to the American Stroke Association. But knowing the risk factors and symptoms of a stroke can play a huge role in reducing the potentially devastating effects.