A stroke happens when blood stops flowing to any part of your brain, damaging brain cells. The effects of a stroke will depend on the part of the brain that was damaged, and the amount of damage done.1 Strokes can happen at any point of your life, from infancy to adulthood.2
There are different types of strokes:2
- Ischemic Stroke – this is caused by a blockage or a clot in a blood vessel in the brain. The blockage can be caused when something called plaque builds up on the inside wall of an artery.
- Hemorrhagic Stroke – this is caused when an artery in the brain breaks open. The interrupted blood flow causes damage to the brain. Having high blood pressure weakens your arteries over time, and is a major cause of hemorrhagic stroke.
- Transient Ischemic Attack – this is caused by a small clot that briefly blocks an artery. It is sometimes called a mini-stroke, or a warning stroke. These are an important warning that a more serious stroke may happen soon.
The effects of a stroke are different for everyone. They can be mild, moderate or severe. The severity of a stroke depends on things like:3
- The type of stroke
- The side of the brain the stroke occurred in
- The lobes of the brain that were affected by the stroke
- The size of the damaged area in the brain
- The body functions that are controlled by the affected area
- The amount of time that the brain area had no blood flow
- How long it took to get to the hospital
Symptoms of a Stroke
You should use the letters in FAST to spot signs of a stroke:4
- F – Face drooping
- A – Arm weakness
- S – Speech difficulty
- T – Time to call 911
Other signs of a stroke include a sudden numbness or weakness of the face, arm, or leg, especially on one side; sudden confusion, trouble speaking or understanding speech; sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes; sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination; and sudden severe headache with no known cause.5
The type of treatment depends on the type of stroke.
For an ischemic stroke, the treatment involves breaking down or removing the clot in the blood vessel. This can be accomplished with medication and mechanical treatments.6
For a hemorrhagic stroke, the treatment is to stop the bleeding. Depending on how much bleeding there is, the doctor may use a small tube called a catheter in your artery to put something, such as a coil, to prevent the blood vessel from rupturing further. Sometimes, surgery is required.7