What Happens During a Stroke
A stroke occurs when blood stops flowing to a part of the brain and cells do not get blood and oxygen. Deprived of oxygen, cells in the affected area of the brain can’t work and die within minutes. The devastating effects of a stroke can be permanent because brain cells cannot be replaced.
Types of Stroke
A Transient Ischemic Attack is an early warning that a major stroke may happen. TIA occurs when a blood clot temporarily clogs an artery, and part of the brain doesn’t get the necessary blood. A TIA is also called a “mini stroke,” and usually causes no lasting damage. However, TIAs are considered emergencies. If you think you’ve had a TIA, go to the emergency room.
- More than 1/3 of people who’ve had a TIA will later have a stroke; most of them within 30 days of their occurrence.
- Approximately half of the people who experience a TIA are unaware of the event.
- Up to a 25% people who suffer a TIA die within one year.
Treatment —Seek medical attention immediately to find out why and correct the problem. Doctors will want to begin a regimen to reduce risk immediately.
Ischemic stroke occurs when a blood vessel supplying the brain is blocked or greatly narrowed. This can happen when fatty deposits (plaque) build up along the vessel wall and cause blood to collect (clot). Ischemic stroke is the most common type. 87% of strokes treated are ischemic.
Treatment —If treated within 3 hours from when the first symptom began, doctors use a clot-busting medicine called tPA, which has great success. But it’s critical that care is sought immediately.
An embolic stroke is caused by a clot or piece of plaque floating in the bloodstream usually from atrial fibrillation or a hold in the heart wall. If one of these gets stuck in a vessel, blood flow to the brain can be blocked.
Hemorrhagic strokes occur when a small vessel in the brain weakens and breaks. Blood spills into the brain tissue, killing cells. Other brain cells die because the blood cells can’t reach them.