Types of Strokes

There are two major kinds of stroke, ischemic and hemorrhagic.

In an ischemic stroke a blood vessel becomes blocked, usually by a blood clot and a portion of the brain becomes deprived of oxygen and will stop functioning.

Ischemic strokes account for 80% of all strokes. Rapid diagnosis and treatment of acute ischemic strokes is essential to reduce death and disability from stroke. That's why learning the FAST acronym is so important:

  • F = Face: Is one side of the face drooping down?
  • A = Arm: Can the person raise both arms, or is one arm weak?
  • S = Speech: Is speech slurred or confusing?
  • T = Time: Time is critical!! Call 9-1-1 immediately!
Hemorrhagic Stroke
A hemorrhagic stroke occurs when a blood vessel that carries oxygen and nutrients to the brain burst and spills blood into the brain. When this happens, a portion of the brain becomes deprived of oxygen and will stop functioning.

Hemorrhagic stroke accounts for about 20% of strokes. The most common signs of a hemorrhagic stroke are:

  • Sudden severe headache with no known cause, often described as "the worst headache of my life"
  • Partial or total loss of consciousness
  • Vomiting or severe nausea, when combined with other symptoms
  • Sudden numbness or weakness of the face, arm or leg, especially on one side of the body
Transient Ischemic Attacks
Transient Ischemic Attacks (TIAs) are often called mini-strokes. The symptoms are the same as for a major stroke.

In a TIA, the blood clot that is blocking the flow of blood in the brain breaks up on its own and the symptoms disappear after a short period of time.

TIAs generally don't cause severe brain damage, but they are a warning sign of a future stroke and should be taken seriously. Even if symptoms disappear quickly, it is important to seek medical care immediately to prevent a future major stroke.