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Stroke -- What You Need To Know By Michael Kasperski, R.N. of Banner Health

By October 9, 2009 - 1:46pm

Question: What is a stroke?

Answer: A stroke, brain attack, is a heart attack of the brain, whereby there is a blockage of blood flow to a portion of the brain, depriving the brain of the only two things it requires to survive: oxygen and sugar. Frequently symptoms of a stroke are ignored because a stroke does not hurt.

Question: Are there different types of stroke?

Answer: There are two types of stroke, ischemic and hemorrhagic stroke. An ischemic stroke is the most common type of stroke, accounting for approximately 83% of all cases.

What are the differences between an ischemic stroke and a hemorrhagic stroke?

An ischemic stroke occurs as a result of an obstruction within a blood vessel that supplies blood to the brain. The obstruction is the result of fatty deposits lining the vessel walls (atherosclerosis). There are two of these types of obstructions:

* A cerebral thrombus is a blood clot that develops at the part of the vessel that is clogged.
* A cerebral embolism is generally a blood clot that develops at another location in the circulatory system, usually in the heart and large arteries of the upper chest and neck. A portion of the blood clot breaks loose, enters the blood stream and then courses through the brain’s blood vessels until it gets stuck in a vessel that is too small to allow it to pass through. Another cause of cerebral embolism is an irregular heartbeat. It creates conditions where blood clots can form in the heart, break loose and travel to the brain.

A hemorrhagic stroke accounts for approximately 17% of stroke cases, and occurs because of a weakened vessel that ruptures and bleeds into the surrounding brain. This blood then accumulates and compresses the surrounding brain tissue. There are two types of weakened blood vessels that cause this type of stroke. Aneurysms are swellings of a weakened region of the blood vessel. Arteriovenous malformations (AVMs) are clusters of abnormally formed blood vessels.

Question: What are some of the warning signs prior to having a stroke?

We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.


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