Stroke occurs when blood flow to the brain is disrupted. The disruption is caused when either a blood clot or piece of plaque blocks one of the vital blood vessels in the brain or when a blood vessel in the brain bursts.
A ministroke, or transient ischemic attack (TIA), is a brief episode of stroke symptoms caused by temporary interruption of blood flow to the brain. Most people suffer TIAs without realizing it.
Tests that may be used to help diagnose a stroke include a CT scan or MRI, and an electroencephalogram.
A stroke can cause problems with speech, vision, memory, balance or coordination. It can leave part of the body weakened or paralyzed, among other physical problems.
Although there is no cure for stroke, advanced medical and surgical treatments are now available, giving many stroke victims hope for optimal recovery.
If you notice any of these symptoms, call 911 or your local emergency medical service immediately. Treatment for stroke is most effective when started as soon as possible.
Stroke rehabilitation works best when the patient, family, and rehabilitation staff works together as a team. Family members must learn about impairments and disabilities caused by the stroke and how to help the patient achieve optimal function again.
Strokes are classified as either ischemic or hemorrhagic. Ischemic strokes are caused by blockage of an artery. Hemorrhagic strokes are caused by bleeding in the brain.
The most important controllable risk factor for stroke is controlling high blood pressure. Blood pressure of 140/90 or higher can damage the arteries that supply blood to the brain.
When an area of the brain is damaged, which typically occurs with a stroke, an impairment may result. An impairment is the loss of normal function of part of the body. Sometimes, an impairment may result in a disability, or inability to perform an activity in a normal way.