Stroke

Synonyms: Brain attack

Medical Specialties: Emergency medicine, Geriatrics, Neurology


Clinical Definition

A stroke is the sudden death of neurons in a concentrated area of the brain, due to a blockage or disturbance in blood flow impacting that area.


In Our Own Words

A stroke is like a heart attack of the brain, thus the term “brain attack.” Just like in a heart attack, a stroke requires immediate medical attention as it may cause permanent brain damage.  

 

There are two main types: ischemic and hemorrhagic. Ischemic strokes result from a blood clot that blocks blood flow to the brain. Hemorrhagic strokes result from ruptured or burst blood vessels in the brain, causing bleeding into the brain tissue and subsequent damage to the brain cells.

 

In either type of stroke, when tissues are without nutrients for more than three or four minutes, they begin to die. The nerve cells are then unable to communicate with the rest of the body, and any number of functions is impaired. Classic symptoms can include the sudden onset of confusion; difficulty talking; weakness or numbness on one side of the body; or visual changes and balance problems.

Relevant Conditions
Common Types
  • Ischemic stroke
  • Hemorrhagic stroke
Side Effects
  • Sudden difficulty with speech
  • Sudden confusion for no particular reason
  • Sudden visual changes in one or both eyes (e.g., dimness, blurring, loss of vision, etc.)
  • Sudden weakness or numbness in the face, arm or leg (especially on one side only)
  • Severe headache without known cause
  • Loss of balance or the inability to walk
Share this article
sources
  • Cleveland Clinic. “Understanding Stroke.” http://my.clevelandclinic.org. Accessed August 2013.
  • National Institute of Neurological Disorders. “NIH Stroke Scale.” http://www.ninds.nih.gov. Accessed August 2013.
  • Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. “Stroke Program.” http://www.cedars-sinai.edu. Accessed September 2013.
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