Types of Strokes: Ischemic and Hemorrhagic

If you've received news that someone you know has a stroke, don't jump to conclusions about how they will be affected. There are different types of strokes all with different causes, warning signs and symptoms. However, they all involve a loss of blood to part of your brain, which causes severe complications. Brain cells need oxygen, which is carried by the blood. Thus, when blood supply to the brain is cut, some cells start to die, setting off trouble. There are two main types of stroke: ischemic and hemorrhagic. If you have symptoms of any of them, consult an accomplished cardiologist like Dr. Rishin Shah as soon as possible.

Ischemic Stroke

Most strokes are Ischemic. You get an ischemic stroke when a greasy substance known as plaque collects in your arteries and narrows them, a condition known as atherosclerosis. This slows down the flow of blood. As the blood pools, it clamps and forms clots, blocking your artery.

Other potential causes of ischemic stroke include a heart attack, irregular heartbeat, problems with your heart's valves, injury to the blood vessels in the neck, or if you have a blood clotting problem. Ischemic stroke can be either thrombotic or embolic. If a clot forms in an artery that supplies blood to the brain, it causes a thrombotic stroke. If the clot happens elsewhere in the body and then travels to the brain, it causes an embolic stroke.

Symptoms

The symptoms of ischemic stroke depend on which part of the brain is affected. They can include sudden numbness on one side of the body, confusion, problems understanding others or speaking, vision loss or double vision, and loss of coordination and balance. You are more likely to get an ischemic stroke if you smoke, are over 60 years of age, have high blood pressure, an irregular heartbeat and a family history of strokes. The more damage that is done by the stroke, the more problems you will likely have.

An ischemic stroke may include a "mini-stroke" known as a transient ischemic attack (TIA). This is caused by a temporary blockage in the blood vessels going to the brain. The symptoms are short-lived and may go away after 24 hours, but are very similar to those of an ischemic stroke. A TIA could be a warning sign that you have an impending ischemic stroke. If you experience the symptoms, get medical help as soon as you can.

Hemorrhagic Stroke

A hemorrhagic stroke happens when there's bleeding in the brain which damages nearby cells. Potential causes include high blood pressure, bleeding disorders, injury, cocaine use, aneurysm, or abnormal blood vessels (AVMs). There are two types of hemorrhagic stroke depending on where the bleeding happens. If the bleeding is between the brain and skull, it's known as subarachnoid hemorrhage.

If the bleeding is inside the brain, then it's known as intracerebral hemorrhage. Although subarachnoid hemorrhage comes suddenly, hemorrhagic stroke symptoms usually appear gradually over a few hours. The symptoms include an intense headache, confusion, nausea and vomiting, sensitivity to light, problems with vision, and passing out.

You're more likely to get a hemorrhagic stroke if you've had a stroke in the past, you're over the age of 60, don't exercise, are obese, have a family history of stroke or if you have high cholesterol, diabetes or hypertension that's not under control. This type of stroke can cause further complications such as heart problems, memory and thinking problems, seizures, swallowing and eating problems.

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