The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention ranks stroke as the fifth leading cause of death in the U.S. and the most common cause of adult disability. Of the 795,000 adults in the U.S. who have a stroke, about 160,000 of them die from stroke-related causes. One in four stroke survivors are at risk of having a second stroke that can be more severe than the first.
These realities make it important to learn what a stroke is, how to recognize the signs that someone is having a stroke and understand your risk factors for stroke. In the event of a stroke, early recognition and treatment is extremely important.
Types of Stroke
There are three types of stroke: Ischemic, Hemorrhagic and Transient Ischemic Attack.
- Ischemic strokes are the most common type of stroke, with 87% of strokes being ischemic. Usually not fatal, an ischemic stroke occurs when blood supply to the brain is blocked either by a blood clot or a gradual build-up of plaque or other fatty deposits in your arteries. These blockages stem from three conditions: thrombosis, embolism or stenosis.
- Thrombosis is a clot within a blood vessel of the brain or the neck.
- Embolism is a clot moving from within the body to the neck or brain.
- Stenosis is a severely narrowed artery leading to the brain.
- Hemorrhagic strokes occur when a blood vessel in the brain bursts and leaks blood into the brain. Hemorrhagic strokes only occur in 13% of stroke victims, but this type of stroke carries a higher risk of death compared to more treatable ischemic strokes.
- Transient Ischemic Attack (TIA) is also known as a mini stroke. During a TIA, the flow of blood to the brain gets cut off for a short period of time. About one in three people who have a TIA go on to have a stroke, often within a year. TIAs are short and won’t cause lasting damage, but it’s important to treat them as an emergency and to take steps to minimize your risk.
To learn more, visit the National Institute of Neurological Disorders & Stroke.