A stroke (cerebrovascular accident) is an event characterized by sudden onset or rapidly evolving neurological symptoms due to disturbances in the vascular supply of the brain. Regardless of its severity, it should always be treated as a medical emergency necessitating prompt hospital admission and specialist treatment.
Stroke is the 3rd most common cause of death and the leading cause of disability among adults. Approximately 1 in 6 men and 1 in 5 women will go on to develop a stroke during their lifetime.
There are 3 major categories of stroke:
This category constitutes the largest group, making up approximately 85% of all cases. Ischemic stroke is caused by reduction or complete blockage of blood and oxygen supply to parts of the brain, due to stenosis or occlusion of an artery.
Transient strokes are ischemic in nature, without however leading to an infarct (permanent necrosis of brain tissue). This is because the reduction in blood flow is temporary. Respectively, their symptoms last for a short period of time (usually less than an hour), after which they completely remit. Transient ischemic attacks increase the risk for a future permanent ischemic stroke.
Hemorrhagic strokes make up approximately 15% of cases. They are caused by the rupture of vessels, resulting in blood collection within the brain parenchyma (intracerebral hemorrhage) or at the surface of the brain (subarachnoid hemorrhage)