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Health Journey Support | Your Risk of Stroke

During a stroke, also known as a brain attack, blood flow to part of the brain has stopped. This brochure will help you understand what a stroke is and the risk for having one.

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Your Risk of Stroke

Normally, blood vessels, called arteries, carry blood to the brain. The brain needs a constant flow of blood to get the oxygen and nutrients it needs to work properly.

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During a stroke, also known as a brain attack, blood flow to part of the brain has stopped. When an artery to part of the brain is blocked during a stroke, oxygen and nutrients in the blood can't get to those brain cells. The cells start to die within minutes.

Ischemic Stroke

The most common type of stroke is called an ischemic stroke. It is caused by blood clots that block the flow of blood to the brain.

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One type of ischemic stroke is called a thrombotic stroke. It can happen in an artery where a fatty substance, called plaque, has made the artery narrow. The stroke happens when a blood clot forms on the plaque and blocks the flow of blood to the brain.

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In another type of ischemic stroke, called an embolic stroke, a blood clot forms in another area of the body and travels through the bloodstream. If it reaches an artery that supplies blood to the brain, it can block the flow of blood.

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Hemorrhagic Stroke

A less common type of stroke is called a hemorrhagic stroke. It occurs when a weakened blood vessel breaks open and leaks blood into the brain, blocking the blood flow. The leaking blood puts pressure on the brain tissue, which damages it.

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Transient Ischemic Attack

In a transient ischemic attack, or TIA, a clot blocks the flow of blood to the brain. But, it's different from the other types of stroke because the clot breaks up after a short time.

Transient ischemic attacks usually don't cause any permanent damage.

Risk Factors For Stroke

High blood pressure is the main risk factor for any type of stroke.

Other risk factors include:

  • Diabetes
  • High cholesterol
  • Having previous transient ischemic attack(s)
  • Smoking
  • Certain types of heart disease
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Stroke Symptoms

It's important to know these signs and symptoms of a stroke:

  • Sudden numbness or weakness in the face, arms, and legs, especially if it's on one side of your body
  • Sudden confusion and trouble speaking, or being unable to understand others speaking
  • Sudden trouble seeing out of one or both eyes
  • Sudden dizziness, loss of balance, or being unable to walk
  • Sudden severe headache

Call 911 right away if you think you or someone else may be having a stroke.

To find out more about the risk for having a stroke, talk to your healthcare provider.

The information in this handout has been created and peer reviewed by graduate-level medical illustrators, followed by reviews from medical subject experts, either physicians or PhDs on the Nucleus Medical Review Board, to ensure medical accuracy and audience level appropriateness.

The handout is intended to supplement the information you receive from your healthcare provider and should never be considered personal medical advice. Always contact your healthcare provider with health questions and concerns.