Simply put, a stroke is a "brain attack." It is the loss or alteration of bodily function resulting from an insufficient supply of blood to the brain.
Stroke can occur when a blood vessel carrying oxygen and nutrients to the brain bursts or is blocked by a blood clot or another particle.
The result is obstructed blood flow to the brain, and when an obstruction occurs, the affected area of the brain cannot get the blood and oxygen it needs. Shortly thereafter, nerve cells begin to die.
There are two types of stroke:
- Ischemic stroke - Arteries are blood vessels that carry blood from the heart throughout the body. When blood cannot reach the brain due to a clot or a buildup of plaque in the artery, an ischemic stroke occurs. About 85 percent of strokes are ischemic.
- Hemorrhagic stroke - When a blood vessel in the brain breaks and releases blood into the brain, a hemorrhagic stroke occurs. Fewer people suffer hemorrhagic strokes than ischemic, yet the chance of survival after hemorrhagic stroke is lower. Click here for more information about hemorrhagic stroke.
Technology to Diagnose Stroke
Computed tomography (CT) perfusion imaging, now used at WakeMed, continues to prove its value as a fast and effective way to diagnose stroke and determine the appropriate type of treatment.
Angioplasty may also be used to stop strokes, much like it is used to stop heart attacks. Using a catheter, the interventionist threads a balloon through the artery to the blockage. The balloon is then inflated to open the artery. Sometimes, the interventionist will also place a stent, a small device made of metal mesh, at the site of the blockage to help prevent future strokes.