A stroke happens when blood flow to part of the brain is cut off, such as when a blood vessel carrying oxygen and nutrients to the brain is blocked by a clot, or it ruptures. After this, the brain is unable to get the blood and oxygen it needs, leading to brain cell death. Strokes can be caused by a clot obstructing the flow of blood into the brain (ischemic stroke) or by a blood vessel preventing blood flow into the brain (hemorrhagic stroke). This is sometimes called a mini-stroke.
Types of Strokes
Any stroke is a medical emergency. Without blood the brain cells start to die. This can cause serious symptoms, lasting disability, and in some cases, even death. There are several different kinds of stroke. Knowing them, their signs and symptoms, and to respond can be life-saving.
Ischemic Stroke (Clots)
Similar to a heart attack, except it occurs in the blood vessels in the brain. Clots can form anywhere in the body and then travel to the brain. These clots flow into the brain, causing a stroke. This kind of stroke also has the possibility of occurring when too much plaque clogs the brain’s blood vessels. Roughly 80% of all strokes are ischemic.
Hemorrhagic Stroke (Bleeds)
Hemorrhagic strokes occur when a blood vessel in the brain ruptures. As a result, blood seeps into the brain tissue, causing brain cell death. The most common cause of hemorrhagic strokes are high blood pressure and aneurysms.
TIA (Transient Ischemic Attack)
A transient ischemic attack (TIA) is like a stroke in that it produces similar symptoms. However, it usually only lasts a few minutes and doesn’t typically cause permanent damage. Often called a mini stroke, a transient ischemic attack is often a precursor to an actual stroke, with about half occurring within the year after the mini stroke.
Cryptogenic strokes are defined as cerebral ischemia of unknown origin. Their cause remains undetermined due to the event history being transitory or reversible. One-third of ischemic strokes are cryptogenic. These are typically treated differently per professional, due to their obscure nature.
Brain Stem Stroke
A brain stem stroke can interfere with several vital functions, including breathing, the heartbeat, and other autonomous bodily functions. They also have the possibility of impairing speech and hearing and may cause vertigo.