Stroke - Topic Overview
What is a stroke?
A stroke occurs when a blood
vessel in the brain is
blocked or bursts . Without blood and the oxygen it carries, part of the brain
starts to die. The part of the body controlled by the damaged area of the brain
can't work properly.
Brain damage can begin within minutes, so it
is important to know the symptoms of stroke and act fast. Quick treatment can
help limit damage to the brain and increase the chance of a full
What are the symptoms?
Symptoms of a stroke happen
quickly. A stroke may cause:
- Sudden numbness, tingling, weakness, or loss of movement in your face, arm, or leg, especially on only one side of your body.
- Sudden vision changes.
- Sudden trouble speaking.
- Sudden confusion or trouble understanding simple statements.
- Sudden problems with walking or balance.
- A sudden, severe headache that is
different from past headaches.
If you have any of these symptoms, call911or other emergency services right away.
See your doctor if you have
symptoms that seem like a stroke, even if they go away quickly. You may have
transient ischemic attack (TIA), sometimes called a
mini-stroke. A TIA is a warning that a stroke may happen soon. Getting early
treatment for a TIA can help prevent a stroke.
What causes a stroke?
There are two types of
ischemic stroke develops when a blood clot blocks a
blood vessel in the brain. The clot may form in the blood vessel or travel from
somewhere else in the blood system. About 8 out of 10 strokes are ischemic (say
"iss-KEE-mick") strokes. They are the most common type of stroke in older
hemorrhagic stroke develops when an artery in the
brain leaks or bursts. This causes bleeding inside the brain or near the
surface of the brain. Hemorrhagic (say "heh-muh-RAH-jick") strokes are less
common but more deadly than ischemic strokes.
How is a stroke diagnosed?
You need to see a doctor right away. If a stroke is diagnosed quickly-right after symptoms start-doctors may be able to use medicines that can help you recover better.
The first thing the doctor needs to find out
is what kind of stroke it is: ischemic or hemorrhagic. This is important
because the medicine given to treat a stroke caused by a blood clot could be
deadly if used for a stroke caused by bleeding in the brain.
find out what kind of stroke it is, the doctor will do a type of X-ray called a
CT scan of the brain, which can show if there is
bleeding. The doctor may order other tests to find the location of the clot or
bleeding, check for the amount of brain damage, and check for other conditions
that can cause symptoms similar to a stroke.
How is it treated?