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What causes a stroke?

There are two main types of stroke, and each has different causes. The first type, an ischaemic stroke, occurs when a blood clot blocks an artery serving the brain, disrupting blood supply. Very often an ischaemic stroke is the end result of a build up of cholesterol and other debris in the arteries (atherosclerosis) over many years.


An ischaemic stroke may be due to:


Blood clot:
A blood clots get stuck in an artery and blocks the blood flow.

  1. A cerebral thrombosis, in which a blood clot (thrombus) forms in a main artery leading to the brain, cutting off body supply.
  2. A cerebral embolism, in which a blood clot forms in a blood vessel elsewhere in the body, for instance in the neck or the heart, and is carried in the bloodstream to the brain.
  3. A lacunar stroke, in which in the blockage is in the small blood vessels deep within the brain.


The second main type of stroke is a haemorrhagic stroke, when a blood vessel in or around the brain bursts, causing a bleed or hemorrhage. Long-standing, untreated high blood pressure places a strain on the artery walls, increasing their risk of bursting and bleeding.


A haemorrhagic stroke may be due to:


Haemorrhagic stroke:
When an artery bursts blood is forced into the brain tissue, damaging cells so that area of the brain can't function.

  1. An intracerebral haemorrhage, in which a blood vessel bursts within the brain itself.
  2. A subarachnoid haemorrhage,in which a blood vessel on the surface of the brain bleed into the area between the brain and the skull, known as the subarachnoid space.

 

**Aknowledgement:
Diagrams used with permission from Stroke Foundation of New Zealand


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Stroke Prevention

 
 
  • What is a stroke?
  • What causes a stroke?
  • Who is at risk?
  • What are the symptoms?
  • How stroke is diagnosed?
  • What are the effects of stroke?
  • What can be done to reduce the risk of stroke?
  • Reducing the risk of subsequent stroke
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