What is a stroke?
Stroke, also known as a brain attack, occurs when the blood supply to the brain is cut off or blocked. This would kill brain cells, causing damage to the brain and affecting how the body works. Stroke can also change how you think and feel.
Types of strokes: Ischaemic, Haemorrhagic & Transient Ischaemic Attack (TIA)
There are 3 different types of strokes:
- Ischaemic stroke
An ischaemic stroke is the most common type of stroke, which is caused by a blockage in the blood vessel cutting off the blood supply to the brain. It accounts for about 87% of all strokes.
Fatty deposits lining in the vessel walls, called atherosclerosis, are the main cause of ischemic stroke. These fatty deposits can cause two types of destruction:
- Cerebral thrombosis - a blood clot that develops at the fatty plaque within the blood vessel.
- Cerebral embolism - a blood clot that forms at another location in the circulatory system, usually the heart and large arteries of the upper chest and neck. Part of the blood clot then breaks loose, enters the bloodstream and travels through the brain’s blood vessels until it reaches vessels too small to let it pass through. The main cause of embolism is an irregular heartbeat called atrial fibrillation. It can cause clots to form in the heart, dislodge and travel to the brain.
- Haemorrhagic stroke
A haemorrhagic stroke is caused by bleeding in or around the brain. It makes up about 13% of stroke cases. They’re caused by a weakened vessel that ruptures and bleeds into the surrounding brain. The blood accumulates and compresses the surrounding brain tissue.
Aneurysms and arteriovenous malformation (AVM) are the types of weakened blood vessels that usually cause haemorrhagic stroke. Aneurysms is a ballooning of a weakened region of a blood vessel that when left untreated, will continue to weaken until it ruptures and bleeds into the brain. AVM is a cluster of abnormally formed blood vessels that when rupture, also cause bleeding into the brain.
- Transient Ischaemic Attack (TIA)
TIA is also known as a mini-stroke. It is the same as a stroke, but the symptoms only last for a short amount of time. This is because the blockage that stops the blood from getting to your brain is temporary.
Since TIA doesn’t cause permanent damage, it’s often ignored, which is a big mistake. TIAs may signal a full-blown stroke soon. Individuals who have experienced TIA should get treatments immediately to prevent a massive stroke from occurring in the future. If you’ve previously had a stroke, pay careful attention to signs of TIA as it could signal a second stroke in your future.
Common warning signals
Some common warning signals of stroke include the following:
- Weakness, numbness or paralysis on one side of your body
- Slurred speech or difficulty understanding others
- Blindness in one eye or both
- Severe headache with no apparent cause
If you ever experience any warning signals mentioned above, consult with a medical professional as soon as possible.
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