The American Stroke Association (ASA), a division of the American Heart Association, reports that strokes happen almost every 40 seconds in the United States. The effects of stroke vary from person to person based on the type, severity, location, and number of strokes. Although there is no cure once it has occurred, advanced medical and surgical treatments are now available, giving many stroke victims hope for optimal recovery and reducing the risk of suffering another.
The Main Types of Stroke
An Ischemic stroke occurs when a blood vessel that supplies oxygenated blood to the brain becomes blocked or “clogged” and impairs blood flow to part of the brain. The brain cells and tissues begin to die within minutes from lack of oxygen and nutrients. The area of tissue death is called an infarct. 87% of strokes fall into this category. Ischemic strokes are further divided into 2 groups.
- Thrombotic strokes are caused by a thrombus (blood clot) that develops in the arteries supplying blood to the brain. This type of stroke is usually seen in older persons, especially those with high cholesterol levels and atherosclerosis (a buildup of fat and lipids inside the walls of blood vessels) or diabetes.
- Embolic strokes are usually caused by an embolus (a blood clot that forms elsewhere in the body and travels through the bloodstream to the brain). Embolic strokes often result from heart disease or heart surgery and occur rapidly and without any warning signs. About 15% of embolic strokes occur in people with atrial fibrillation, a type of abnormal heart rhythm in which the upper chambers of the heart do not beat effectively.