A stroke – sometimes called a "brain attack" – occurs when normal blood flow to the brain is cut off. When this happens, the brain isn't getting the oxygen that it needs, and brain cells can die quickly.
There are two types of stroke: ischemic and hemorrhagic.
Ischemic stroke is the most common, and often stems from:
- Clots within a blood vessel of the brain or neck that block or plug supply (thrombosis)
- Clots that break off from another part of the body and go to the brain (embolism)
- Narrowing of the blood vessels supplying the brain (stenosis)
Hemorrhagic stroke happens when a blood vessel in the brain bursts and bleeds into the brain.
Just like a heart attack can damage the heart, a stroke can injure the brain. The part of the brain that is damaged may not work or be able to control the body as it once did.
You may have heard of "mini-stroke," also called transient ischemic attack (TIA). This occurs when less blood than usual makes it to the brain. It is short-lived and does not result in permanent damage. But it can be a warning sign of a more serious stroke.
If you think you are having a stroke or "mini-stroke," call 911 right away. It could save your brain and your life.