Stroke Education


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Stroke Education
A to Z Glossary of Stroke Terms
Types of Stroke
Causes of Stroke
The Brain
Common Deficits
Stroke Recovery
Stroke Awareness

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Stroke is one of the leading causes of serious permanent disability in adults and is the third leading cause of death in the country.


Ischemic strokes is caused when the arteries to the brain become narrowed or blocked, causing severely reduced blood flow (ischemia).

Ischemic strokes can be further divided into the following two categories:

1. Thrombotic

A thrombotic stroke is caused when a blood clot (thrombus) forms in one of the arteries that supply blood to the brain. A clot may be caused by fatty deposits (plaque) that build up in arteries and cause reduced blood flow (atherosclerosis) or other artery conditions.

2.  Embolic

An embolic stroke is caused when a blood clot or other debris forms away from the brain, commonly in the heart, and is swept through the bloodstream to lodge in narrower brain arteries. This type of blood clot is called an embolus.


Hemorrhagic strokes is caused when a blood vessel that supplies the brain ruptures and bleeds. When an artery bleeds into the brain, brain cells and tissues do not receive oxygen and nutrients. In addition, pressure builds up in surrounding tissues and irritation and swelling occur, which can lead to further brain damage.

Hemorrhagic strokes are further divided into the following two categories:

1.  Intracerebral

An intracerebral stroke is caused by hypertension (high blood pressure), and bleeding occurs suddenly and rapidly. There are usually no warning signs and bleeding can be severe enough to cause coma or death.

2.  Subarachnoid

A subarachnoid stroke is caused when bleeding occurs between the brain and the meninges in the subarachnoid space. This type of hemorrhage is often due to an aneurysm or an arteriovenous malformation (AVM).

How a person recovers from a stroke depends on the location of the brain involved and the extent of damage done.

Stroke Warning Signs

bullet Sudden numbness or weakness of the face, arm or leg, especially on one side of the body   
bullet Sudden confusion, trouble speaking or understanding   
bullet Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes   
bullet Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination   
bullet Sudden, severe headache with no known cause

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Original date 3/1/96 Revised 9/24/14