Stephen J. Schueler, M.D.

Stroke Overview

What is a stroke?
A person with a stroke has an interruption in the blood supply to an area of the brain, which causes the brain to malfunction. The brain is very sensitive to any interruption in blood flow. Brain cells begin to die within minutes of losing their supply of oxygen and glucose. The interruption of blood flow can occur by one of two mechanisms. A hemorrhagic stroke is caused by bleeding from small blood vessels that supply blood to the brain. An ischemic stroke is caused by a blood clot that blocks the flow of blood through an artery that supplies blood to the brain. There are two types of ischemic stroke: thrombotic stroke and embolic stroke. A thrombotic stroke is caused by a blood clot that forms inside the brain artery. An embolic stroke is caused by a blood clot that forms outside the brain, travels through the bloodstream, and then becomes lodged in the brain artery. About 3 out of 2,000 adults over the age of 45 have a stroke each year in the US.

What are the symptoms of a stroke?
The symptoms of a stroke usually occur suddenly. Symptoms that may occur on one side of the body include arm numbness, arm weakness, leg numbness, leg weakness, or facial weakness. Additional symptoms of a stroke include difficulty swallowing, difficulty speaking, difficulty walking, a change in vision, or loss of coordination.

How does the doctor treat a stroke?
General treatment for a stroke includes oxygen therapy and heart monitoring. Treatment for an ischemic stroke may include blood thinner medications or thrombolytic therapy, while treatment for a hemorrhagic stroke may require surgery. After the stroke, additional treatment may include physical therapy, occupational therapy, and rehabilitation.

Continue to Stroke Incidence

Last Updated: Sep 13, 2010 References
Authors: Stephen J. Schueler, MD; John H. Beckett, MD; D. Scott Gettings, MD
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