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What is a stroke?

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Treatment can begin with drugs given to reduce the pressure in the brain, control overall blood pressure , prevent seizures and prevent sudden constrictions of blood vessels. If an individual is taking blood-thinning anticoagulants or an antiplatelet medication like warfarin or clopidogrel, they can be given drugs to counter the effects of the medication or blood transfusions to make up for blood loss. Surgery can be used to repair any problems with blood vessels that have led or could lead to hemorrhagic strokes.

Surgeons can place small clamps at the base of aneurysms or fill them with detachable coils to stop blood flow and prevent rupture. If the hemorrhage is caused by arteriovenous malformations AVMs , surgery can also be used to remove them if they are not too big and not too deep in the brain. AVMs are tangled connections between arteries and veins that are weaker and burst more easily than other normal blood vessels.

Strokes are life-changing events that can affect a person both physically and emotionally. After a stroke, successful recovery will often involve specific therapies and support, such as:. Rehabilitation is an important and ongoing part of treatment. With the right assistance and the support of loved ones, rehabilitation to a normal quality of life is possible, depending on the severity of the stroke.

The best way to prevent a stroke is to address the underlying causes. This is best achieved through lifestyle changes, including:. Eating a nutritious diet means including plenty of fruits, vegetables, and healthy whole grains, nuts, seeds, and legumes.

Be sure to eat little or no red or processed meat and limit intake of cholesterol and saturated fats. Minimize salt intake to support healthy blood pressure. As well as these lifestyle changes, a doctor can help to reduce the risk of future ischemic strokes through prescribing anticoagulant or antiplatelet medication. In addition, arterial surgery can also be used to lower the risk of repeat strokes, as well as some other surgical options still being studied.

The different types of stroke have different causes. However, stroke is more likely to affect people if they have the following risk factors:. This type of stroke is caused by blockages or narrowing of the arteries that provide blood to the brain, resulting in ischemia. Ischemia is severely reduced blood flow that damages brain cells.

These blockages are often caused by blood clots, which can form in the brain arteries. They can also occur in other blood vessels in the body before being swept through the bloodstream and into narrower arteries in the brain.

Leaked blood puts pressure on brain cells and damages them. It also reduces the blood supply that can reach the brain tissue after the hemorrhage.

Blood vessels can burst and spill blood into the brain or near the surface of the brain, sending blood into the space between the brain and the skull. The ruptures can be caused by conditions including hypertension , trauma, blood-thinning medications, and aneurysms.

Aneurysms are weaknesses in the walls of blood vessels. Intracerebral hemorrhage is the most common type of hemorrhagic stroke and occurs when brain tissue becomes flooded with blood after an artery in the brain bursts. Subarachnoid hemorrhage is the second type of hemorrhagic stroke and is less common.

In this type of stroke, bleeding occurs in the area between the brain and the thin tissues that cover it. TIAs are different from the types above because the flow of blood to the brain is only briefly interrupted. TIAs are similar to ischemic strokes in that they are often caused by blood clots or other clots.

They should be regarded as medical emergencies, even if the blockage of the artery and its symptoms are temporary. They serve as warning signs for future strokes and indicate that there is a partially blocked artery or clot source in the heart. Between 10 and 15 percent of people will have a major stroke within 3 months of a TIA. Strokes can lead to long-term health problems.

Depending on how quickly it is diagnosed and treated, an individual can experience temporary or permanent disabilities in the aftermath of a stroke. In addition to the persistence of the problems listed above, people may also experience the following:. The faster a person with suspected stroke receives medical attention, the better their prognosis will be, and the less likely they will be to experience permanent damage or death.

Strokes onset rapidly and will often occur before an individual can be seen by a doctor for a proper diagnosis. For a person experiencing a stroke to get the best diagnosis and treatment possible, they should be treated at a hospital within 3 hours of their symptoms first appearing. There are several different types of diagnostic tests that doctors can use to determine which type of stroke has occurred:. It is only possible to confirm the type of stroke someone has had by giving them a brain scan in a hospital environment.

Article last updated by Adam Felman on Thu 23 November Visit our Stroke category page for the latest news on this subject, or sign up to our newsletter to receive the latest updates on Stroke. All references are available in the References tab. Coronary heart disease and stroke deaths - United States, Impact of stroke Stroke statistics.

Near-infrared measurements of brain oxygenation in stroke. Neurophotonics, 3 3 , Stroke signs and symptoms. Stroke warning signs and symptoms. What is an arteriovenous malformation AVM?. MNT is the registered trade mark of Healthline Media. Any medical information published on this website is not intended as a substitute for informed medical advice and you should not take any action before consulting with a healthcare professional. Privacy Terms Ad policy Careers. This page was printed from: Get the most out of Medical News Today.

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