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A Stroke, also called cerebrovascular accident (CVA), is a sudden interruption of blood flow to a part of the brain causing it to stop functioning and thereby damaging brain cells.
Types of Strokes are Ischaemic stroke, Embolic stroke and Haemorrhagic stroke.
Ischaemic stroke is the most common type of stroke, that occurs mostly in elderly people. It occurs when a clot blocks an artery in the brain. The clot usually forms in a small blood vessel inside the brain and has narrowed through high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes or smoking.
Embolic strokes occur when a clot of blood or piece of plaque (cholesterol or calcium deposits) on an artery wall breaks loose and travels to the brain. When so happens, the flow of blood to the brain is blocked and tissue is damaged or dies.
Haemorrhagic stroke occurs when an artery inside the brain ruptures and leaks blood into the brain causing cerebral haemorrhage. This break of the artery means that certain parts of the brain are deprived of blood and a stroke occurs. Blood irritates the surrounding brain tissue, causing swelling and pressure, which may cause further damage and loss of function. There are two types of heamorrhagic strokes - Subarachnoid haemorrhage (SAH) is when blood leaks into the surface of the brain and Intracranial haemorrhage (ICH) is when there is bleeding into the brain tissue itself.
Common reasons of stroke include family history, heart disease, heart rhythm disorders e.g. atrial fibrillation, smoking, diabetes, high blood cholesterol, high blood pressure, use of oral contraceptives, excessive alcohol intake or being overweight.
Symptoms of a stroke include:
A stroke may result in permanent loss of function. Which body function will be affected depends on which part of the brain is affected. Common long-term effects include impaired vision or speech, severe weakness or paralysis of limbs on one side of the body, swallowing difficulties, memory loss, depression and mood swings.