Stroke is a brain injury caused by an interruption in blood flow. Brain tissue that does not get oxygen and nutrients from blood can die within minutes. The damage to the brain can cause a sudden loss in bodily functions. The changes will depend on the part of the brain that is damaged.
Two blood flow problems can cause a stroke:
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A hemorrhagic stroke happens because of a weakened blood vessel in the brain. Blood vessels may be weakened by:
Factors that may increase your chance of stroke include:
Factors that can raise your risk of hemorrhagic stroke include:
Symptoms will depend on the part of the brain affected. Rapid treatment is important to decrease the amount of brain damage. Call for emergency medical services right away if you have:
Other symptoms that may go along with the above symptoms include:
A physical exam will be done. The doctor will look for muscle weakness, visual and speech problems. If possible, the doctor will ask about symptoms and past health. A CT scan may be done to confirm the diagnosis.
Images of blood vessels will help to find the cause of the bleeding. Image tests may include:
Blood tests will also be done. Tests will show how well the blood can clot. Your doctor may also examine the fluid that surrounds your brain and spine.
Brain tissue without blood flow dies quickly. Immediate treatment is needed to stop the bleeding and restore restore blood flow to the brain. Blood spilled in the brain is also trapped in the skull. It can build and put pressure on the brain. That pressure may need to be relieved.
Medicine can be given to help the blood clot. This may also include vitamin K. Medicine can also help to:
Surgery may be done to help stop the bleeding. Some may be done through blood vessels. A tube is placed into blood vessels of the groin and passed to the vessels in the brain. Next steps will depend on the cause and site of the bleeding:
The stroke and damaged tissue can cause swelling in the brain. Surgery may be needed to relieve the pressure. One common option is to remove a section of the skull. This is called a craniotomy.
Recovery will depend on the amount of brain damage. Rehabilitation may include:
Manage and monitor medical issues. This includes aneurysms and high blood pressure. Other habits that may reduce the risk of stroke include:
American Heart Association
National Stroke Association
Heart & Stroke Foundation
Public Health Agency of Canada
Intracerebral hemorrhage. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/intracerebral-hemorrhage. Accessed October 25, 2020.
Stroke (acute management). EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/management/stroke-acute-management/. Accessed October 25, 2020.
Stroke treatments. American Heart Association American Stroke Association website. Available at: http://www.strokeassociation.org/STROKEORG/AboutStroke/Treatment/Stroke-Treatments_UCM_310892_Article.jsp#.VzOxrE2FPIU. Accessed October 25, 2020.
Subarachnoid hemorrhage. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/subarachnoid-hemorrhage. Accessed October 25, 2020.
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Last reviewed May 2020 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Rimas Lukas, MD Last Updated: 10/25/2020