What Causes a Stroke, and What Happens During a Stroke?

by Editorial Board on October 18, 2010 · 0 comments

in Heart & Circulation,Neurological Disorders

High Blood Pressue can lead to Strokes

If you have suffered from a full-blown stroke, you may be eligible to receive Social Security disability benefits.  Stroke is mentioned in the medical conditions listings in the Social Security Administration’s impairment listing manual or “blue book.”  If someone who had a stroke meets the criteria of the listing, he or she should win Social Security disability benefits.

Strokes occur in over 700,000 Americans each year and they are the third leading cause of death in the United States. A stroke, or cerebrovascular accident (CVA), occurs if blood supply to a part of brain is interrupted due to any reason, causing brain cells to die.  The brain is a very sensitive organ and heavily dependent on continuous blood supply for its vitality and proper functioning. Any minor or even short interruption in blood supply can seriously affect brain cells, causing them to die within seconds.

Strokes are broadly categorized into the following two categories:

  1. Ischemic Stroke
  2. Hemorrhagic Stroke

Ischemic Stroke

Ischemia is defined as a restriction in blood supply, generally due to factors present within blood vessels, and can result in damage or dysfunction of cells and tissue. Interruption in blood supply towards brain can occur due to number of reasons including:

  1. i. Narrowing of blood vessels within the brain

Narrowing of blood vessels can occur due to a variety of reasons and such narrowing can lead to blockage of tiny blood vessels within brain. Depending on the size of the area these narrowed blood vessels supply, the brain cells start to die.

  1. ii. Atherosclerosis (hardening of blood vessels)

Atherosclerosis is a condition in which an artery wall thickens over time as a result of the build-up of fatty materials such as cholesterol. As arteries become narrow, the plaque or fatty debris can break off and can clog blood vessels supplying a part of the brain.

  1. iii. Due to Emboli (blood clots)

A blood clot or emboli formed within the heart can travel upward towards the brain and clog the arteries in the brain and cause a stroke.

Hemorrhagic Stroke

A hemorrhagic stroke occurs if an artery within the brain leaks or bursts and this leads to bleeding inside or near the surface of brain. The most common reason to have bleeding within the brain is uncontrolled hypertension or high blood pressure. Hemorrhagic strokes though are less common as compared to ischemic strokes but are more dangerous and deadly.

What happens during Stroke?

The symptoms generally depend on the part of brain being affected but common symptoms or warning signs that may be observed during an episode of stroke include the following;

  1. Sudden weakness or numbness of the face, arm or leg, generally on one side of the body,
  2. Confusion and trouble in speaking or understanding,
  3. Sudden eye sight problems in one or both eyes,
  4. Trouble in walking, lightheadedness, and loss of coordination or balance,
  5. Severe headaches without known causes may be experienced by a person having a stroke.
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