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Types of Strokes, Symptoms of a Stroke, as Well as Tips for Preventing Strokes from Occurring

Updated on September 3, 2014

Smokers are at an Increased Risk of Suffering from a Stroke


Medical Definition for Stroke

A stroke is a severe health emergency caused by an infarction in the brain. A stroke occurs when blood flow to a part of the brain stops. A stroke is sometimes called a "brain attack."

If blood flow is cut off for longer than a few seconds, the brain cannot get sufficient blood and oxygen. This can result in damage to the cells in the brain, causing lasting damage.

Strokes can be caused by caused by a number of factors, but regardless of the cause, strokes require immediate medical attention or can result in paralysis, vision problems and memory loss.

Stroke is the leading cause of adult disability and is the second-highest cause of death in the world.

Stroke Diagnosis and Rapid Treatment - Time is of the Essence

Symptoms of a Stroke

  • Difficulty speaking or understanding what someone is saying; often times people will slur their words or not be able to speak at all
  • Trouble walking or other coordination problems
  • Numbness in your face, legs and/or arms, usually on one side of your body
  • A severe headache so bad it causes nausea
  • Changes in hearing
  • Changes in the way things taste
  • Difficulty with your vision
  • Loss of bladder or bowel control
  • Personality changes or changes to your mood

Risk Factors for a Stroke

  • High blood pressure
  • Cigarette smoking
  • Diabetes
  • High cholesterol
  • Weight problems
  • High alcohol consumption
  • Genetics
  • Old age

Types of Strokes

Not all strokes are created equal. There are a number of different types of strokes, including thrombotic strokes, embolic strokes, hemorrhagic strokes, ischemic strokes and transient ischemic attacks. The two most common types of stroke include ischemic strokes and hemorrhagic strokes.

Here is a breakdown of the various types of strokes with a brief description of each:

  • Ischemic stroke- Ischemia is a medical term referring to restricted blood flow. Ischemic strokes are caused when the arteries in the brain become restriced, causing blood supply to the brain to decrease and/or stop. This is the most common type of stroke.
  • Thrombotic stroke- This is an ischemic stroke that is caused by a blood clot in the arteries that supply blood to the brain.
  • Embolic stroke- A type of ischemic stroke, embolic strokes are caused by heart disease or heart surgery and typically come on quickly without any warning signs.
  • Hemorrhagic stroke- This particular type of stroke is caused by a blood vessel in the brain that is leaking or that has ruptured. Causes of ruptured blood vessels in the brain include high blood pressure, trauma, or vascular malformations in the brain.
  • Transient ischemic attack- Also known as a mini-stroke, transient ischemic attacks are caused by temporary decreased blood supply to a portion of your brain. However, usually these "mini-attacks" only last under five minutes. Transient ischemic attacks only cause temporary blockage and therefore are less serious than full blown ischemic strokes.

A Stroke is Caused by a Lack of Oxygen or Blood Flow to the Brain

Stroke Signs, Symptoms and Treatment

Depression Puts People at Higher Risk for a Stroke than Those without Depression


Depression and Strokes

Depression was found to be a significant and independent risk factor for a stroke in a recent study conducted in the United Kingdom. The study also found that those who had recovered from depression remained at high risk for a stroke for at least one year after their recovery.

Not only was depression found to be a significant risk factor in people who had never suffered from a stroke previously, it was an even larger risk factor for those who had previously suffered from a stroke.

"The association of depression with other health outcomes could change in patients who recover from depression," the researchers wrote.

Preventing a Stroke

The best way to avoid a stroke is to stay healthy. Major risk factors for a stroke include things like excessive alcohol consumption, cigarette and cigar smoking, stress and poor diet. If you are a smoker, you should seriously consider quitting to lower your risk of a stroke. If you drink heavily, try to cut back your alcohol consumption. If you don't eat properly, begin to change your diet and start to incorporate exercise into your daily routine. All of these things are helpful when it comes to preventing a stroke.

Besides the smoking, the drinking, and the food, there are certain health conditions that predispose people to strokes. High blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes are three of these conditions, all of which can be prevented in many cases. If you suffer from blood pressure problems, cholestoral issues, are diabetic or have been diagnosed as pre-diabetic, you should work closely with your doctor to cure or control these problems to avoid a future stroke.

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Treatment for a Stroke

If you think you are suffering from a stroke you should go to the nearest emergency room or call 911 as soon as possible.

A stroke is a life threatening emergency and if it is not treated immediately it can cause serious health complications and can even lead to death.

In order to treat a patient who is suffering from a stroke, doctors need to restore blood supply to the brain. The quicker they can do this, the less permanent damage the patient will suffer.

First, doctors will try to treat the stroke using blood clot-busting drugs like a tissue plaminogen activator, or blood thinning medications like warfarin, heparin, or clopidogral.

If medication treatment does not work to stop the stroke, surgical procedures may be performed that can open up or widen the arteries in the body to improve blood and oxygen flow and reduce the risk of permanent damage as a result of the stroke.

Typically, doctors will keep the patient in the hospital for a few days after treating the stroke to monitor the condition and ensure that another stroke doesn't happen.

Depending on the type of stroke, doctors may need to remove a clot, deliver IV medication to the brain, deliver intravenous injections of tissue plasminogen activators, or perform an angioplasty on the patient.

Regardless of the type of stroke however, immediate treatment by a medical professional is crucial for anyone suffering from a stroke.


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    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Weithers 3 years ago from The Caribbean

      Thank you for these explanations on types of strokes and on prevention. Although the risk factors list old age, some not-so-old individuals have experienced strokes. No one can be too careful. Very valuable and voted up.

    • Kathleen Odenthal profile image

      Kathleen Odenthal 3 years ago from Bridgewater

      So sorry to hear about your friends. They call strokes the silent killer for good reason. And so many strokes are preventable, it is a shame awareness isn't more wide spread.

    • heidithorne profile image

      Heidi Thorne 3 years ago from Chicago Area

      People worry about cancer. But heart disease (#1 killer) and strokes are also leading causes of death for women and men in the US. Had a couple of friends die of stroke and/or complications from it. Thanks for spreading the word on this important issue!


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