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Stroke Emergency - Signs - Types of Strokes

Updated on April 16, 2015

Stroke Statistics

Strokes are a medical emergencies. Early treatment can minimize the damage to the brain and potential stroke complications. Strokes (also known as CVA’s – Cerebral Vascular Accidents) are the third leading cause of death in America with over 143,579 people dying each year in United States.

It is the leading cause of long term disability also. Out of 795,000 people having strokes, 600,000 are having their first attack, and 185,000 are recurrent attacks. Nearly 75% of strokes happen to people over 65. The risk doubles with each decade after the age of 55.

A stroke occurs when the blood flow is blocked to an area of the brain. This can be from a blood clod or a piece of plaque that breaks off and ends up in the brain which deprives the brain of oxygen and nutrients. The symptoms of a stroke depend on which part of the brain is affected.

A headache may occur, particularly if the stroke is caused by bleeding in the brain.

The headache characteristics are:

  • The headache starts suddenly and may become severe
  • Occurs when lying flat
  • Wakes you up from sleep
  • Gets worse when you change positions or when you bend, strain or cough.

Cerebral Arteries - Healthy and Diseased

Cerebral Artery with healthy and plaque artery pictures courtesy of
Cerebral Artery with healthy and plaque artery pictures courtesy of

Plague in Artery

Courtesy of
Courtesy of

Stroke Symptoms

There are particular signs to watch for if you think you or someone else is having a stroke:

  • Walking- You may be suddenly dizzy and stumble, have a loss of balance and/or coordination.
  • Speaking – You speech may become garbled or not be able to come up with the words to explain what is happening to you (called aphasia). Try to repeat a simple sentence and if you aren’t able you may be having a stroke.
  • Paralysis or numbness on one side of the body - The numbness or weakness may have a sudden onset just on one side of the body. Try to raise both hands over your head at the same time. If one arm starts to fall this is a sign of a stroke.
  • Visual problems – You may have sudden blurred or blackened vision, or see double.
  • Headache – Sudden, severe headache or sometimes an unusual headache that is accompanied by a stiff neck, facial pain, pain between your eyes, vomiting or altered consciousness might be indicators of a stroke.

Great Explanation of Stroke Physiology

Cerebellum Stroke

Courtesy of
Courtesy of

Right Sided Stroke


Left Sided Storke

Courtesy of
Courtesy of

Steps to Follow if You are With Someone Having a Stroke

Usually strokes give no warning, but some people do have one or more TIA’s (Transient Ischemia Attacks) which is an episode of stroke symptoms lasting typically for just a brief period of time (a few minutes up to 24 hours). This is a serious sign of a possible impending stroke; get medical help immediately. While a TIA may seem like a passing event it is an important warning sign. If you are with someone who is having a stroke call 911 immediately, then watch for their breathing and use mouth to mouth resuscitation if necessary; if they vomit turn their head to the side to prevent choking and don’t let the person drink anything.

Stokes may occur in the cerebrellum, right or left side of the brain. There are two categories of strokes; Ischemic and Hemorrhagic.

Ischemic: About 80% of strokes are ischemic which means they occur when the arteries to your brain are not getting enough oxygen due to narrowing of the artery and brain cells start dying within minutes. Either a blood clot forms in a damaged area due to atherosclerosis (plaque causing narrowing) or the same process takes place in one of the carotid arteries in the neck. There is a second type of ischemic stroke also which occurs when a blood clot (embolus) or other particle forms in a blood vessel away from your brain, such as in your heart, and it is swept through the body to lodge in the brain. This second type of ischemic stroke occurs most often in people who have heart rhythm abnormalities (atrial fibrillation).

Hemorrhagic in the medical term for bleeding and the stroke occurs when a blood vessel in your brain ruptures. This can occur for a number of reasons; very high blood pressure, a weak spot in one of the arteries called an aneurysm, or a less common type called an arteriovenous malformation (AVM) which is an abnormal tangle of thin-walled blood vessels present at birth.

Treatment for Hemorrhage Strokes

There are three types of treatment for these strokes:

  • Aneurysm clipping where a tiny clamp is applied at the base of the aneurysm
  • Coiling is a procedure where a catheter is maneuvered into the aneurysm and a tiny coil is pushed through the catheter and positioned inside the aneurysm which will cause clotting and sealing of the aneurysm.
  • Surgical AVM removal if the AVM is not too large.

There are two areas where hemorrhage strokes occur:

  • Intracerebral hemorrhage – This is when a blood vessel in the brain bursts and spills into surrounding tissue damaging cells. The brain cells beyond the leak are damaged. High blood pressure is the most common cause of this type of stroke.
  • Subarachnoid hemorrhage – Bleeding starts in a larger artery in this type of stroke on or near the surface of the brain and spills into the space beneath the surface of the brain and skull. This type of hemorrhage typically causes a “thunderclap” headache. Usually it is caused by the rupture of an aneurysm, which may have been genetically inherited or have developed over time. After the rupture, blood vessels may spasm causing further damage.


This is the first hub about strokes and is meant to give you an overview of strokes, the types of strokes, the procedures the hospitals use and what to do if you are with someone having a stroke. I hope you will remember the typical symptoms of a stroke, as time is of the essence to prevent as much damage as possible, and maybe save a life.

Be sure to my next hub about strokes, as it covers risk factors for stroke, my own personal experience with my husband's stroke and what you can do as a caregiver or friend to help the stroke victim and their family.


Submit a Comment

  • Pamela99 profile image

    Pamela Oglesby 3 years ago from United States

    Thanks for your comments.

  • Majidsiko profile image

    Majidsiko 3 years ago from Kenya

    Great hub again. The term Brain attack is being used now due to the interventions coming up for treatment. The care is improving to the level of heart attacks. If the symptoms occur get to a capable hospital ASAP

    If you notice any of the following

    F = Face: Is one side of the face drooping down?

    A = Arm: Can the person raise both arms, or is one arm weak?

    S = Speech: Is speech slurred or confusing?

    T = Time: Time is critical!! Call 9-1-1 immediately!

  • Pamela99 profile image

    Pamela Oglesby 6 years ago from United States

    Lita, I hope that also did a carotid doppler scan to make sure your carotid arteries aren't blocked as that will cause a TIA. I wish you the best and I appreciate your sharing your experience.

  • Lita C. Malicdem profile image

    Lita C. Malicdem 6 years ago from Philippines

    I had this TIA while singing in our church choir in December 2010. I felt a light tug from my left chest and a mild electric-like tingle crawled up to the tips of my left fingers. I stopped singing, sat down, and held my head down my knees for fear that I might faint. I was relieved. I didn't join the choir anymore. But on my way out of church, this thing came again. My companions rushed me to a nearby hospital. I learned that I had TIA for the first time. My 2DEcho test showed a heart not very good but not very bad. The doctor cautioned me to get some rest and not to overwork myself. I didn't get any medication for this. I share this with you for others to know.

  • Pamela99 profile image

    Pamela Oglesby 6 years ago from United States

    Roberta, Thank you so much for your comment.

  • Roberta99 profile image

    Roberta99 6 years ago

    Very good information that everyone shoud know.

  • Pamela99 profile image

    Pamela Oglesby 7 years ago from United States

    Nethravathi, Thank you for your comment.

  • profile image

    Nethravathi 7 years ago

    A very good article.Written with all seriousness.Thanks.

  • Pamela99 profile image

    Pamela Oglesby 7 years ago from United States

    Coolmon, Thanks so much for your comments. I tried to make this and part 2 very factual so they could be used as a resource.

  • Coolmon2009 profile image

    Coolmon2009 7 years ago from Texas, USA

    Nice article, I like your selection of images and the video too. This hub makes a good reference source.

  • Pamela99 profile image

    Pamela Oglesby 7 years ago from United States

    katzzz, Thank you so much for the compliment.

  • katyzzz profile image

    katyzzz 7 years ago from Sydney, Australia

    You certainly do write well planned and interesting hubs, Pamela, I think you must be a very patient person. This is so well articulated.

  • Pamela99 profile image

    Pamela Oglesby 7 years ago from United States

    Sage, I'm glad you enjoyed the hub and strokes are so important to understand as they can happen quickly and the signs are sometimes subtle. Thanks so much for your comment.

  • Sage Williams profile image

    Sage Williams 7 years ago

    Exceptional hub once again, you put your knowledge to good use. Thanks so much for sharing this very valuable information. It's always nice to have first hand knowledge of what to do and what not to do in a medical emergency. Great Job, Thanks,


  • Pamela99 profile image

    Pamela Oglesby 7 years ago from United States

    Nancy, Thank you for your comment.

  • nancy_30 profile image

    nancy_30 7 years ago from Georgia

    This was very useful information. Thank you for sharing it.

  • Pamela99 profile image

    Pamela Oglesby 7 years ago from United States

    Darlene & Janny, I appreciate you comments so much.

  • JannyC profile image

    JannyC 7 years ago

    So informative again you hard work and research shines through.

  • Darlene Sabella profile image

    Darlene Sabella 7 years ago from Hello, my name is Toast and Jam, I live in the forest with my dog named Sam ...

    Pretty scary stuff, this stoke business, if not found on time the results can be devastating. Thank you for all this awesome helpful advise. thumbs up, your van

  • Pamela99 profile image

    Pamela Oglesby 7 years ago from United States

    Pop, I hope your friend is getting proper medical care so they don't have a major stroke. That is always a concern. Thanks for your comments.

  • breakfastpop profile image

    breakfastpop 7 years ago

    Very important info. A close friend of mine probably suffered a mini stroke a few days ago. I am sick about it.

  • Pamela99 profile image

    Pamela Oglesby 7 years ago from United States

    Shaz, Thank you for your comment.

    Leoavinash, Try reading Part II

    Suport Med, Thank you for your comment.

  • Support Med. profile image

    Support Med. 7 years ago from Michigan

    Pamela99:Great info, on my way to part 2.

  • leoavinash profile image

    leoavinash 7 years ago from mumbai

    it is very nice & very informative hub but the lifestyle changes & risk factors should have been provided

  • shazwellyn profile image

    shazwellyn 7 years ago from Great Britain

    What a wonderfully explained hub Pamela! You seem to have covered everything, simply, fully and brilliantly. Well done! :)

  • Pamela99 profile image

    Pamela Oglesby 7 years ago from United States

    Katiem, Tnank you so much for your comments.

    Quill, Thank you for your comments and I'm glad that your father has a success story. Blessings to you.

  • profile image

    "Quill" 7 years ago

    Great Hub...I watched my Dad after he had a TIA and an inspiration he was to watch during his recovery. We were blessed to have medical attention so close by.

    Blessing and Hugs for this one.

  • katiem2 profile image

    katiem2 7 years ago from I'm outta here

    Pamela, This is fascinating information, very well organized and just amazing. Thanks for the knowledge. Thanks and Peace :)

  • Pamela99 profile image

    Pamela Oglesby 7 years ago from United States

    Habee, I appreciate your comment.

    rpalulis, Thank you for your comments. I am sorry to hear about your grandfather.

  • rpalulis profile image

    rpalulis 7 years ago from NY

    My Grandfather has been in a wheel chair for the past ten years due the the after math of a massive stroke. Thank you so much for such an informative article, I wish my Grandfather had read this article ten years ago.

  • habee profile image

    Holle Abee 7 years ago from Georgia

    Oh, this is great. Everyone should learn this!

  • Pamela99 profile image

    Pamela Oglesby 7 years ago from United States

    Drpasyotcarlotta, Thank you for your comments and you are right about the disproportionate numbers of the Black population that have strokes in this article or Part II, because so many have hypertension.

    Anginwu, Thank you for your comments. The risk factors, complications and my husband's personal wtory is in Part II.

  • anglnwu profile image

    anglnwu 7 years ago

    Very good information, presented in a clear, logical way--information we can all store in our heads just in case. Thanks.

  • drpastorcarlotta profile image

    Pastor Dr. Carlotta Boles 7 years ago from BREAKOUT MINISTRIES, INC. KC

    I really appreciate this Hub, strokes really occur a lot in the Black Americans! This Hub is very informational!! thank you Pamela99, love you!!!

  • Pamela99 profile image

    Pamela Oglesby 7 years ago from United States

    Coffeesnob, Thank your for your comment.

  • profile image

    coffeesnob 7 years ago


    Very informative hub..thanks

  • Pamela99 profile image

    Pamela Oglesby 7 years ago from United States

    Rhyclak, Thanks for your comment and that information is in Part II. The hub was too large for just one reading.

    Hello, Thank you for your comments.

    Tom, That is a shame that they didn't realize the TIA's were so dangerous at that time. It never would happen that way today if would have got treatment. Thanks for your comments.

  • Tom Whitworth profile image

    Tom Whitworth 7 years ago from Moundsville, WV


    Very informative hub. My father died from an ischemic stroke in 1976.

    Unfortunately at that time there were few treatment options available. He had had several TIA incidents in the years leading up to the final stroke.

  • Hello, hello, profile image

    Hello, hello, 7 years ago from London, UK

    This is an informative and helpful hub. Thank you for doing the research and putting it together.

  • rkhyclak profile image

    rkhyclak 7 years ago from Ohio

    Great hub, Pamela! Everyone needs to know about strokes as they seem to be occurring more frequently. Only thing I might have added was a little blurb about getting to the hospital ASAP to get Plavix and thrombolytics if they're having an ischemic stroke to help prevent and/or reverse effects of the stroke. One thing we've found on the neuro unit at my hospital is that people don't often come to the hospital quickly because they don't think there's anything that can be done; when the truth is if they're in our ER within 3 hours of symptom onset we CAN do something! I'm glad stroke education is becoming as easily available to the public as heart attack info. Definitely rated this up. Looking forward to part 2!