What is a stroke?
Your brain is the control center for your whole body. It lets you see, hear, taste, smell, feel, think and move around. Each area has special tasks to do, and some areas work together to get their jobs done. When your heart beats, it sends blood through arteries and veins to every part of your body. Blood carries oxygen to brain cells through arteries in and around the brain. Oxygen keeps the brain cells alive and working well.
Brain cells die when the brain’s blood flow stops or leaks into the wrong place. This is called a stroke. Brain cells that die will not recover (permanent brain damage). Other brain cells are in shock and will start working again after a while. No one can tell just how long it will take for these cells to begin working again. Most healing happens in the first year, but people may improve their skills for much longer. Also, people may learn new skills to replace the ones they have lost.
Types of stroke
There are three main types of stroke: transient ischemic attack, ischemic stroke and hemorrhagic stroke.
Transient ischemic attack
A transient ischemic attack or TIA (“mini stroke”) is a temporary blockage of blood flow to the brain. TIAs usually last only a few minutes. Although symptoms may go away soon, a TIA is a warning sign that a stroke may occur in the near future. About one-third of people who have a TIA go on to have a severe stroke within the first year. Steps should be taken immediately to prevent a stroke. Diagnostic workup for TIA is the same as for ischemic stroke.
An ischemic (iss-KEE-mik) stroke is the most common type of stroke and makes up 87 percent of all strokes. Ischemic stroke occurs when there is a blockage in a vessel that supplies blood to the brain. If an ischemic stroke is caught early enough, debilitating effects may be reversed with treatment.
Hemorrhagic (bleeding) strokes account for about 13 percent of strokes. Hemorrhagic stroke occurs when a weakened blood vessel ruptures, allowing blood to leak into the brain. This leakage will cause that part of the brain not to function properly.
Ask your doctor—What type of stroke did I have?
Download our Stroke Education booklet
The Stroke Center at Prisma Health aims to reduce the effects of a stroke with quick identification, assessment, treatment and recovery.