Types of Stroke
Ischemic Stroke. About 85% of all strokes are ischemic, in which blood flow to the brain is blocked by blood clots or fatty deposits called plaque in blood vessel linings.1
Hemorrhagic Stroke. A hemorrhagic stroke occurs when a blood vessel bursts in the brain. Blood accumulates and compresses the surrounding brain tissue. There are two types of hemorrhagic stroke
- Intracerebral hemorrhage is the most common type of hemorrhagic stroke. It occurs when an artery in the brain bursts, flooding the surrounding tissue with blood.
- Subarachnoid hemorrhage is bleeding in the area between the brain and the thin tissues that cover it.
Transient ischemic attack (TIA) is a "warning stroke" or a "mini-stroke" that results in no lasting damage. Recognizing and treating TIAs immediately can reduce your risk of a major stroke.
If you have a stroke, you may receive emergency care, treatment to prevent another stroke, rehabilitation to treat the side effects of stroke, or all three.
- Emergency treatment. If you get to the hospital within three hours of the first symptoms of an ischemic stroke, a doctor may give you medications, called thrombolytics, to break up blood clots. Unfortunately, if you have had a hemorrhagic stroke, few medications can treat it, but surgery may stop the bleeding.
- Preventing another stroke. If you have had a stroke, you are at high risk for another one. At least one in every eight stroke survivors has another stroke within 5 years.1 That's why it's important to treat the underlying causes, including heart disease, high blood pressure, atrial fibrillation, high cholesterol, or diabetes.
Your doctor may give you medications or tell you to change your diet, exercise, or adopt other healthy lifestyle habits. Surgery may also be helpful.
- Rehabilitation. Rehabilitation often involves physical therapy to help you relearn skills you may have lost because of the stroke. You also may need help relearning how to eat, bathe, or dress yourself. Therapy and medications may help with depression or other mental health conditions.
Life After Stroke
If you have had a stroke, you can make great progress in regaining your independence. However, you may still suffer from any of the following:
- Paralysis on one side of your body.
- Weakness on one side of your body.
- Problems with thinking, awareness, attention, learning, judgment, and memory.
- Problems understanding or forming speech.
- Difficulty controlling or expressing emotions.
- Numbness or strange sensations.
- Pain in the hands and feet that worsens with movement and temperature changes.
Before being discharged from the hospital, social workers can help you find quality care services and family caregiver support to continue your long-term recovery.
- Lloyd-Jones D, Adams R, Carnethon M, et al. Heart disease and stroke statistics—2009 update. A report from the American Heart Association Statistics Committee and Stroke Statistics Subcommittee. Circulation 2009;119:e21-e181.