Stroke occurs when blood flow to the brain is disrupted. Disruption in blood flow is caused when either a blood clot blocks one of the vital blood vessels in the brain (ischemic stroke), or when a blood vessel in the brain bursts, spilling blood into surrounding tissues (hemorrhagic stroke).
The brain needs a constant supply of oxygen and nutrients in order to function. Even a brief interruption in blood supply can cause problems. Brain cells begin to die after just a few minutes without blood or oxygen. A loss of brain function occurs with brain cell death. This may include impaired ability with movement, speech, thinking and memory, bowel and bladder, eating, emotional control, and other vital body functions. Recovery from stroke and the specific ability affected depends on the size and location of the stroke. A small stroke may result in problems such as weakness in an arm or leg. Larger strokes may cause paralysis (inability to move part of the body), loss of speech, or even death.
Risk Factors for Stroke
There are a number of factors that may contribute to causing a stroke, including:
Excessive alcohol use (more than 2 drinks per day)
Heart rhythm disorders
High blood pressure
High red blood cell count
Symptoms of Stroke
Symptoms of a stroke may be sudden and include:
Weakness or numbness of the face, arm or leg, especially on one side of the body
Confusion or difficulty speaking or understanding
Problems with vision, such as dimness or loss of vision in one or both eyes
Dizziness or problems with balance or coordination
Problems with movement or walking
Loss of consciousness or seizure
Severe headaches with no other known cause, especially if sudden onset
All of the above warning signs may not occur with each stroke, so do not ignore any of these symptoms. Even if the symptoms go away, take action immediately.
Other, less common, symptoms of stroke may include the following:
Sudden nausea or vomiting not caused by a viral illness
Brief loss or change of consciousness, such as fainting, confusion, seizures or coma
Treatment for Stroke
For patients who suffer a stroke, specialists at ourCenter for Cerebrovascular Diseases. deliver rapid, accurate, and advanced assessment and treatment. Stroke is an emergency, and the greatest chance for recovery from stroke occurs when treatment is started immediately.
There are several treatment options for stroke, and the best treatment will depend on the patient’s age, health, and medical history as well as the severity, location, cause, and type of stroke. In some cases, surgery may be necessary. Several types of surgery may be performed to help treat a stroke, or help to prevent a stroke from occurring, including:
Simple and complex intracranial bypass procedures
Craniectomy and hemispheric decompression for stroke patients with a large area of brain affected
Carotid endarterectomy, skull base approaches to aneurysm clipping, and AVM resection to prevent stroke or stroke recurrence while minimizing disturbance of normal brain tissue
This video animation demonstrates a mechanical thrombectomy for revascularization to remove a blood clot in the brain. Quick medical treatment to remove the clot is critical to prevent ischemic stroke.Learn more about the Center for Cerebrovascular Diseases.