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:
A hemorrhagic stroke is caused by a ruptured blood vessel. It may be:
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
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:
Decrease pressure in the brain
Lower blood pressure
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:
For a burst aneurysm—A clip may be placed just before the damaged vessel. It should stop the bleeding.
For a leaking or aneurysm that has not burst—A special coil or clip may be placed in the weak area. The coil will help a clot to form over the area. It will prevent bleeding.
For an abnormal tangle of blood vessels—Surgery may be done to repair the blood vessels. It may be able to remove the tangles or reroute the blood around the area.
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
Recovery will depend on the amount of brain damage. Rehabilitation may include:
Physical therapy—to regain as much movement as possible
Occupational therapy—to assist in everyday tasks and self-care
Speech therapy—to improve swallowing and speech challenges
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
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