Strokes, also known as cerebrovascular accidents (CVAs), are medical emergencies that occur when there is a disruption in the blood supply to the brain, leading to brain cell damage.
Ischemic Stroke: Ischemic strokes are the most common type, accounting for approximately 85% of all strokes. They occur when there is a blockage or clot in a blood vessel supplying the brain. This blockage reduces or completely halts blood flow, depriving brain tissue of oxygen and nutrients. Ischemic strokes can be further classified into two subtypes:
Thrombotic Stroke: This type of stroke occurs when a blood clot forms within an artery that supplies blood to the brain. It often develops in areas where there is atherosclerosis (buildup of fatty deposits in the arteries).
Embolic Stroke: An embolic stroke happens when a blood clot or other debris, such as plaque or a piece of tissue, travels from another part of the body (usually the heart) and becomes lodged in a brain artery, blocking blood flow.
Hemorrhagic Stroke: Hemorrhagic strokes are less common but more severe than ischemic strokes. They occur when a blood vessel in the brain ruptures or leaks, leading to bleeding in or around the brain. Hemorrhagic strokes can be classified into two subtypes:
Intracerebral Hemorrhage: This type of stroke occurs when a blood vessel within the brain ruptures, causing bleeding directly into the brain tissue.
Subarachnoid Hemorrhage: A subarachnoid hemorrhage is characterized by bleeding into the space between the brain and the thin tissues that cover it (the subarachnoid space). This type of stroke is often caused by the rupture of an aneurysm (a bulging, weakened area in a blood vessel).
Transient Ischemic Attack (TIA): Often referred to as a "mini-stroke," a TIA is not a full-blown stroke but rather a temporary disruption of blood flow to the brain. TIAs share many of the symptoms of a stroke but typically resolve within a short period (usually less than 24 hours) without causing permanent damage.However, TIAs should be taken seriously, as they can be warning signs of an impending major stroke and require immediate medical attention.
Remember the acronym "FAST" to identify stroke symptoms: Face drooping, Arm weakness, Speech difficulty.
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