Friday, October 31, 2014

Table of Contents

Definition

A stroke is an interruption of the blood supply to any part of the brain. A stroke is sometimes called a "brain attack."

See also:

  • Aneurysm
  • Arteriovenous malformation (AVM)
  • Cerebral hemorrhage

Alternative Names

Cerebrovascular disease; CVA; Cerebral infarction; Cerebral hemorrhage; Ischemic stroke; Stroke - ischemic; Cerebrovascular accident; Stroke - hemorrhagic


Causes, incidence, and risk factors

A stroke happens when blood flow to a part of the brain is interrupted because a blood vessel in the brain is blocked or bursts open.

If blood flow is stopped for longer than a few seconds, the brain cannot get blood and oxygen. Brain cells can die, causing permanent damage.

There are two major types of stroke: ischemic stroke and hemorrhagic stroke.

ISCHEMIC STROKE

Ischemic stroke occurs when a blood vessel that supplies blood to the brain is blocked by a blood clot. This may happen in two ways:

  • A clot may form in an artery that is already very narrow. This is called a thrombus. If it completely blocks the artery, it is called a thrombotic stroke.
  • A clot may break off from another place in the blood vessels of the brain, or some other part of the body, and travel up to the brain to block a smaller artery. This is called an embolism. It causes an embolic stroke.
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Review Date: 06/15/2010
Reviewed By: Daniel B. Hoch, PhD, MD, Assistant Professor of Neurology, Harvard Medical School, Department of Neurology, Massachusetts General Hospital. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.

A.D.A.M., Inc. is accredited by URAC, also known as the American Accreditation HealthCare Commission (www.urac.org)