A stroke, also known as a cerebrovascular accident (CVA), occurs when the blood supply to part of the brain is interrupted or reduced, depriving brain tissue of oxygen and nutrients. This lack of oxygen and nutrients can cause brain cells to die, leading to permanent damage to the affected area of the brain. Strokes can be classified into two main types: ischemic strokes and hemorrhagic strokes.

  1. Ischemic Stroke: This type of stroke occurs when a blood clot blocks or narrows an artery supplying blood to the brain. Ischemic strokes account for about 87% of all stroke cases. There are two subtypes of ischemic strokes:
    • Thrombotic stroke: Caused by a clot forming within one of the arteries supplying blood to the brain.
    • Embolic stroke: Caused by a clot that forms elsewhere in the body (often the heart) and travels to the brain, where it lodges in a smaller artery.
  2. Hemorrhagic Stroke: This type of stroke occurs when a weakened blood vessel ruptures and bleeds into the surrounding brain tissue. Hemorrhagic strokes account for about 13% of all stroke cases. There are two subtypes of hemorrhagic strokes:
    • Intracerebral hemorrhage: Bleeding occurs within the brain tissue itself due to a ruptured blood vessel.
    • Subarachnoid hemorrhage: Bleeding occurs in the space between the brain and the surrounding membrane (subarachnoid space), often due to the rupture of an aneurysm.

Common risk factors for stroke include high blood pressure, smoking, diabetes, obesity, high cholesterol, atrial fibrillation, excessive alcohol consumption, physical inactivity, and a family history of stroke.

The symptoms of stroke can vary depending on the type of stroke and the area of the brain affected but may include sudden numbness or weakness of the face, arm, or leg (especially on one side of the body), sudden confusion, trouble speaking or understanding speech, sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes, sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination, and a severe headache with no known cause.

Immediate medical attention is crucial if a stroke is suspected, as early intervention can minimize brain damage and improve the chances of recovery. Treatment for stroke may involve medications, medical procedures, and rehabilitation therapy, depending on the type and severity of the stroke.

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