Today we’re going back to the basics. Do you know what a stroke is? Did you know that there are three different types of stroke? Sometimes the medical explanations can get a little confusing, so here’s a simple, non-technical guide to the different types of stroke. Let’s start with the most common type:
Ischemic Stroke – The Blood Clot
Ischemic strokes are the most common type of stroke, accounting for 87% of stroke cases. An ischemic stroke occurs when a blood clot cuts off the supply of blood to the brain. Sometimes the clot forms directly in one of the arteries in the brain (a thrombotic stroke) or the clot forms somewhere else in the body and travels to the brain where it gets stuck (an embolic stroke).
Certain medical conditions can increase your chances of ischemic stroke, like atherosclerosis, a condition where your arteries become narrowed by the buildup of plaque. Physical activity and cholesterol management are great ways to combat atherosclerosis and help prevent ischemic stroke.
Hemorrhagic Stroke – The Burst Vessel
Hemorrhagic strokes are much more rare but result in 40% of stroke deaths. So although they happen less frequently, they’re usually much more severe. Hemorrhagic strokes occur when a blood vessel in the brain bursts, causing the burst vessel to bleed into the surrounding brain. Your risk of hemorrhagic stroke increases with the following medical conditions.
A condition known as arteriovenous malformation (AVM) causes blood vessels to form abnormally, leading to tangled, weakened arteries that are more likely to burst from high blood pressure. Those who don’t have AVM but still suffer from high blood pressure are also at higher risk of hemorrhagic stroke as your blood vessel walls become weakened by the high pressure, making them more susceptible to bursting. As you can see, managing high blood pressure is a critical step towards preventing hemorrhagic stroke.
Transient Ischemic Attack – The Serious Warning
Transient Ischemic Attack, or TIA, occurs when the blood flow to the brain is blocked temporarily for a short amount of time – usually less than 5 minutes. TIAs generally don’t cause any permanent damage to the brain, but they are still a medical emergency and should be treated as such. A TIA is often referred to as a ‘mini stroke’ or ‘warning stroke’ as it can be a precursor to a future stroke. In fact, about one third of all TIA survivors will go on to experience a stroke within a year after their TIA, so taking preventative measures after a TIA is crucial.
Do you know someone who is at high risk of stroke and doesn’t know it? Share this article with them to help raise stroke awareness.