Strokes can occur in different ways. The most common type of stroke, an ischemic stroke, is caused when a blood clot travels to the brain, interrupting blood flow and depriving the brain of oxygen. Hemorrhagic strokes are less common and occur when a blood vessel ruptures, causing bleeding in the brain. In the aftermath of a stroke, many patients undergo physical, occupational, and speech therapy to restore function. In general, the sooner a stroke is recognized and treated, the better the prognosis.

Key Terms

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What causes a stroke?

    An ischemic stroke occurs when a blood clot impedes blood flow to the brain. Risk factors include diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and arrhythmia. A hemorrhagic stroke occurs when there is a rupture of a blood vessel in the brain, such as in cases of high blood pressure, aneurysm or arteriovenous malformation.

  • What are the signs of a stroke?

    Key signs of a stroke include facial drooping, arm weakness, and speech difficulties. Other possible signs are vision problems, a severe headache, confusion, and dizziness. Less commonly, first signs of a stroke can include incontinence, lack of coordination, and a sudden sensation of burning or tingling of the skin.

  • How can you prevent a stroke?

    The best ways to prevent a stroke are to control high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes. If you smoke, find out how to quit. Reducing alcohol consumption, exercising regularly, and maintaining a healthy weight are also important.

  • What does a stroke feel like?

    In most cases, stroke symptoms are not painful, although a severe headache may occur in hemorrhagic strokes. The most common signs are drooping on one side of the face, weakness in an arm or leg, and difficulty speaking normally.

  • What is heat stroke?

    Heat stroke can occur as a result of extreme heat exposure and is a medical emergency. Heat stroke typically comes on suddenly, worsens quickly, and may lead to a coma, irreversible brain damage, and death.

  • What is a mini stroke?

    A mini stroke, also called a transient ischemic attack (TIA) or a pre-stroke, is a brief stroke that resolves on its own. As with stroke, there is a lack of blood flow to the brain. In the case of a mini stroke, however, blood flow is quickly restored before permanent brain injury can occur.

  • Can stress cause a stroke?

    Stress is not an independent risk factor for stroke. However, stress is linked with factors such as high blood pressure, smoking, excessive alcohol consumption, and obesity, all of which, in turn, increase stroke risk.

  • How do you treat hemorrhagic stroke?

    Reducing blood pressure with intravenous medications is the first step in treating a hemorrhagic stroke; if the patient takes a blood thinner, something will be given to reverse its effects. If the hemorrhage is small, supportive care may be all that is needed. For more serious strokes, surgery may be needed to repair the rupture and stop the bleeding.

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  1. American Stroke Association. Hemorrhagic stroke (bleeds).