A stroke happens when blood supply to the brain is stopped.
There are two main types of stroke: ischemic and hemorrhagic . An ischemic stroke is the most common type.
Medical care is needed right away. Cells in the brain die if they are without oxygen for more than a few minutes. This can be deadly.
|Hemorrhagic vs. Ischemic Stroke|
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An ischemic stroke happens when blood flow is blocked. This may be caused by:
- A clot from another part of the body that breaks off and becomes trapped in a blood vessel supplying the brain
- A clot that forms in an artery that supplies blood to the brain
- A tear in an artery supplying blood to the brain
This problem is more common in older adults and people with a family history of stroke.
Problems that affect blood vessel health and blood flow can raise the risk of stroke. Some examples are:
- History of transient ischemic attacks (TIA)
- Lack of physical activity
- Alcohol use disorder
- Obesity or metabolic syndrome
- Type 2 diabetes or prediabetes
- High blood pressure
- High cholesterol
- Heart diseases or injury such as previous heart attack, atrial fibrillation or enlarged heart
- Diseases of blood vessels such as carotid artery stenosis or atherosclerosis
Daily habits can also play a role. Some examples are:
- A diet that is high in saturated fat, trans fat, cholesterol, and sodium
- Physical inactivity
- Drug abuse from cocaine , amphetamines, or heroin use
A stroke needs to be diagnosed quickly. The doctor will ask you or a family member about your symptoms and health history. A physical exam will be done. The doctor will look for signs of nerve or brain problems.
Blood tests may be done to look for clotting problems.
Images may be taken of the brain. This can be done with:
- CT scan
- Angiogram —to look at the heart and its blood supply
- CT angiogram
- MRI scan
- Magnetic resonance angiography (MRA)
- Doppler ultrasound
Heart function will be checked. This can be done with:
- Electrocardiogram (ECG) to look at the heart's electrical activity
- Echocardiogram to look at the heart's muscle movements
Emergency care will be needed. The heart and lungs may need support. A tube may also be placed to help with breathing. Other options are:
Medicine may be given to:
- Dissolve clots and prevent new ones from forming
- Thin blood
Options to treat an ischemic stroke are:
- Embolectomy—a tube is passed through blood to remove a clot or deliver medicine to break it up
- Vertebrobasilar angioplasty and stenting —a major artery to the brain is widened and a mesh tube is left in place to help keep it open
Therapy may be needed to regain lost skills. Options are:
- Physical therapy—to improve movement
- Occupational therapy—to help with daily tasks and self care
- Speech therapy—to improve swallowing and speech
- Psychological therapy—to provide support after the stroke
The risk of stroke can be lowered by:
- Managing chronic health problems, such as high blood pressure and diabetes
- Maintaining a healthy weight through diet and exercise
- Eating a diet that is low in fat and cholesterol and rich in whole grains, fruits, and vegetables
- Not smoking
- Limiting alcohol
This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.
Edits to original content made by Denver Health.
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a (Cerebrovascular Accident; CVA; Cerebral Infarct)
American Heart Association http://www.heart.org
National Stroke Association http://www.stroke.org
Health Canada https://www.canada.ca
Heart and Stroke Foundation http://www.heartandstroke.com
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