Matters of The Heart: Cardiovascular Diseases
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What are the types of Stroke and their causes?

Strokes are a medical emergency that occur when blood flow to the brain is disrupted, leading to damage or death of brain cells. There are different types of strokes, each with its own causes and characteristics.

Here are the main types of strokes and their common causes:

Ischemic Stroke. Ischemic strokes are the most common type, accounting for about 85% of all strokes. They occur when a blood clot or plaque buildup blocks an artery supplying blood to the brain. The two primary causes of ischemic stroke are:

  • Thrombotic Stroke. This type of ischemic stroke occurs when a blood clot (thrombus) forms within one of the arteries supplying blood to the brain. The clot usually forms on a fatty deposit (plaque) lining the artery walls.

  • Embolic Stroke. An embolic stroke happens when a blood clot or other debris forms elsewhere in the body (often in the heart) and travels through the bloodstream until it lodges in a smaller artery in the brain, blocking blood flow.

Hemorrhagic Stroke. Hemorrhagic strokes occur when a blood vessel in the brain ruptures or leaks, leading to bleeding within or around the brain. The two main causes of hemorrhagic stroke are:

  • Intracerebral Hemorrhage. This type of stroke occurs when a blood vessel within the brain ruptures, causing bleeding and damage to nearby brain tissue. High blood pressure and weakened blood vessel walls are common causes of intracerebral hemorrhage.

  • Subarachnoid Hemorrhage. Subarachnoid hemorrhages happen when there is bleeding into the space between the brain and the surrounding tissues. The most common cause is the rupture of a small sac-like bulge in a blood vessel called an aneurysm.

Transient Ischemic Attack (TIA). A transient ischemic attack, often referred to as a mini-stroke, is a temporary disruption of blood flow to the brain. It has similar symptoms to a stroke but usually resolves within a few minutes to hours. TIAs are typically caused by a temporary blockage or narrowing of an artery.

Strokes can occur in people of any age, although the risk increases with age. Recognizing and managing these risk factors through lifestyle modifications, medication, and regular medical check-ups can help reduce the likelihood of experiencing a stroke.

Prompt medical attention is crucial if someone experiences symptoms of a stroke, such as sudden weakness or numbness in the face, arm, or leg (especially on one side of the body), trouble speaking or understanding speech, severe headache, dizziness, or loss of balance. Acting quickly can improve the chances of better recovery and minimize long-term complications.