What Causes a Stroke to Happen?

June 10, 2022

Strokes are one of the scariest medical experiences around. They can be debilitating or even fatal and yet happen out of nowhere, in individuals who seem otherwise healthy.

So what’s going on in the brain of a stroke patient? The terminology can be complex, but the cause is surprisingly simple. Understanding the terms used can make the whole illness more comprehensible and less scary.

Here’s an explanation behind the medical terminology of strokes and what causes them to happen.

The Two Types of Stroke

In medical terms, a stroke is a brain illness in which part of the brain loses its blood supply and requires neurology workarounds.

This causes cells and tissues to begin dying off, compromising many everyday body functions, like speech and motor control. A stroke is a medical emergency and is one of the most common causes of death around the world. Even if a stroke patient receives prompt treatment, the lasting impact of a stroke can be life-changing.

There are two main types of stroke, both with slightly different causes.

Ischemic Stroke

Ischemic strokes are the most common form of stroke. In medical terms, ischemia is a restriction of blood supply to tissues, which inhibits the metabolic cellular processes that keep them alive.

Ischemic strokes are where ischemia leads to a stroke due to a blood clot blocking the blood supply to brain tissues. This is often a result of arterial narrowing due to plaque buildup.

Hemorrhagic Stroke

Hemorrhage is a medical term for bleeding, whether internal or external. A hemorrhagic stroke, then, is caused by bleeding in the brain. This is often the result of a burst blood vessel, which allows blood into or around the brain.

Hemorrhagic strokes are usually the result of weakened arteries, in turn mostly caused by high blood pressure.

Effects of Stroke

The immediate effects of a stroke provide some of the best ways to identify the condition in the early stages. These include facial drooping, arm weakness or arm drifting, and slurred speech. The acronym FAST is a convenient way to remember these symptoms.

Long-term, strokes can cause a range of debilitating problems, both mental and physical—the full list would go on for a while. As a stroke affects the brain, the long-term impact of a stroke is often systemic.

Reducing Stroke Risk

When we know the common stroke causes, we can look at preventing them. Preventing strokes is often about tackling the underlying lifestyle or health problems that increase stroke risk, though there is also medication for stroke prevention.

Both types of strokes have several risk factors in common. These include:

  • Smoking and/or high alcohol intake
  • High blood pressure
  • Obesity

Risk factors for ischaemic strokes also include diabetes, high cholesterol, and atrial fibrillation.

Risk factors for hemorrhagic stroke also include stress and a sedentary lifestyle.

The Medical Terminology of Strokes Explained

There’s a lot of scary medical terminology related to strokes, which can make a terrifying illness all the more intimidating. By breaking down the medical terms and exploring strokes in simpler terms, we can understand what they are and even make it easier to prevent them.

Looking to learn more about healthy living? Make sure to check our Health section often for more.

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