What is a Stroke?

Arteries and Vessels of the Brain

Blood is carried to the brain via a complex network of arteries and vessels. A stroke occurs when one of these arteries becomes blocked or ruptures.

A stroke is a sudden interruption in the blood supply of the brain. Most strokes are caused by an abrupt blockage of arteries leading to the brain (ischemic stroke).  Other strokes are caused by bleeding into brain tissue when a blood vessel bursts (hemorrhagic stroke). Because stroke occurs rapidly and requires immediate treatment, stroke is also called a brain attack. When the symptoms of a stroke last only a short time (less than an hour), this is called a transient ischemic attack (TIA) or mini-stroke.

The effects of a stroke depend on which part of the brain is injured, and how severely it is injured. Strokes may cause sudden weakness, loss of sensation, or difficulty with speaking, seeing, or walking. Since different parts of the brain control different areas and functions, it is usually the area immediately surrounding the stroke that is affected. Sometimes people with stroke have a headache, but stroke can also be completely painless. It is very important to recognize the warning signs of stroke and to get immediate medical attention if they occur.

Types of Stroke

Ischemic Stroke - ThumbnailIschemic Stroke

The most common type of stroke, accounting for almost 80 percent of all strokes, is caused by a clot or other blockage within an artery leading to the brain.

Intracerebral Hemorrhage - ThumbnailIntracerebral Hemorrhage

An intracerebral hemorrhage is a type of stroke caused by the sudden rupture of an artery within the brain. Blood is then released into the brain compressing brain structures.

Subarachnoid Hemorrhage - ThumbnailSubarachnoid Hemorrhage

A subarachnoid hemorrhage is also a type of stroke caused by the sudden rupture of an artery. A subarachnoid hemorrhage differs from an intracerebral hemorrhage in that the location of the rupture leads to blood filling the space surrounding the brain rather than inside of it.