What Are the Different Types of Strokes?
When someone mentions “stroke,” you likely recognize the term as an emergency condition. According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), stroke occurs from the death of brain cells when the brain stops receiving blood flow.
But did you know there is more than one kind of stroke? Click through the slideshow to learn how to distinguish between the different types of strokes.
Three Major Players
Three Major Players
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) lists three main types of stroke:
- ischemic stroke (caused by blood clots)
- hemorrhagic stroke (caused by ruptured blood vessels that cause brain bleeding)
- transient ischemic attack (TIA) (a “mini-stroke,” caused by a temporary blood clot)
According to the American Heart Association (AHA), the vast majority of strokes (87 percent) are ischemic strokes.
No matter which type of stroke you have, many of the symptoms are the same. If you notice someone experiencing any of these symptoms, contact 911 immediately:
- numbness or weakness that starts suddenly, most commonly on either the left or right side of the body (face, arms, or legs are often affected)
- confusion, difficulty comprehending language, or trouble talking that begins without warning
- sudden vision problems (in one eye or both)
- severe, piercing headache, with no clear cause, that starts suddenly
- difficulty walking because of sudden loss of balance or dizziness
While the three main types of stroke share the same symptoms, they differ in the duration of time the symptoms occur.
In a TIA, symptoms generally last only about one minute, according to the American Stroke Association (ASA). Some can last up to five minutes.
The difference between the other types of strokes and a TIA is the temporary nature of the blood clot that caused it. While ischemic and hemorrhagic strokes can cause permanent brain damage, TIAs usually don’t.
Within the category of ischemic strokes, there are two sub-types of strokes caused by blood clots:
An embolic stroke occurs when a blood clot forms in your body and eventually reaches your brain.
A thrombotic stroke is caused by a clot in an artery that supplies blood to your brain, known as “thrombosis.” Thrombosis can be “large vessel” or “small vessel” depending on the size of the artery affected.
Types of Thrombotic Stroke
Types of Thrombotic Stroke
There are two kinds of thrombosis that can lead to a stroke: large vessel thrombosis and small vessel disease, also called “lacunar infarction.” Thrombotic stroke is caused by an artery disease called atherosclerosis, which is followed by the formation of blood clots.
According to the National Stroke Association (NSA), large vessel thrombosis is the most common of the thrombotic strokes.
Small vessel disease, or “lacunar infarction,” is the other type of stroke-causing thrombosis. Small vessel disease develops from a blood clot in a small artery.
According to the NSA, researchers are uncertain about the exact cause of lacunar infarction. But they do know that the condition is related to high blood pressure.
Both types of thrombotic stroke have been linked to coronary artery disease, the NSA reports.
Strokes are often deadly—but they can be prevented. The NSA states that around 80 percent of all strokes can be avoided by taking some steps:
- check your blood pressure and cholesterol levels regularly
- don’t smoke, and drink alcohol only in moderation
- exercise regularly
- eat a low-fat, low-salt diet
Managing your risk for stroke with simple but important lifestyle changes can go a long way towards prevention.
- Types of Stroke. (n.d.). American Heart Association/American Stroke Association. Retrieved January 8, 2014, from http://www.strokeassociation.org/STROKEORG/AboutStroke/TypesofStroke/Types-of-Stroke_UCM_308531_SubHomePage.jsp
- Types of Stroke. (n.d.). What is Stroke?. Retrieved January 8, 2014, from http://www.stroke.org/site/PageServer?pagename=type
- Types of Stroke. (2013, December 6). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved January 9, 2014, from http://www.cdc.gov/stroke/types_of_stroke.htm
- Stroke: MedlinePlus. (n.d.). U.S National Library of Medicine. Retrieved January 8, 2014, from http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/stroke.html
- Stroke Signs and Symptoms. (2013, December 10). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved January 9, 2014, from http://www.cdc.gov/stroke/signs_symptoms.htm
- Ischemic Strokes (Clots). (n.d.). Ischemic Strokes (Clots). Retrieved January 7, 2014, from http://www.strokeassociation.org/STROKEORG/AboutStroke/TypesofStroke/IschemicClots/Ischemic-Strokes-Clots_UCM_310939_Article.jsp
- Hemorrhagic Strokes (Bleeds). (n.d.). Hemorrhagic Strokes (Bleeds). Retrieved January 9, 2014, from http://www.strokeassociation.org/STROKEORG/AboutStroke/TypesofStroke/HemorrhagicBleeds/Hemorrhagic-Strokes-Bleeds_UCM_310940_Article.jsp
- TIA (Transient Ischemic Attack). (n.d.). TIA (Transient Ischemic Attack). Retrieved January 9, 2014, from http://www.strokeassociation.org/STROKEORG/AboutStroke/TypesofStroke/TIA/TIA-Transient-Ischemic-Attack_UCM_310942_Article.jsp
- Stroke Prevention. (n.d.). How can I Prevent a Stroke? Retrieved January 10, 2014, from http://www.stroke.org/site/PageServer?pagename=prevent