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Ischemic and Hemorrhagic Stroke

Ischemic Stroke

Ischemic stroke is the most common type of stroke. Usually this type of stroke results from clogged arteries, a condition called atherosclerosis. Fat, cholesterol and other substances collect on the wall of the arteries, forming a sticky substance called plaque. Over time, the plaque builds up. This often makes it hard for blood to flow properly, which can cause the blood to clot. There are two types of clots: A clot that stays in place in the brain is called a cerebral thrombus. A clot that breaks loose and moves through the blood to the brain is called a cerebral embolism.

Other causes of ischemic stroke include:

  • Abnormal heart valve
  • Atrial fibrillation
  • Inflammation of the inside lining of the heart chambers and heart valves (endocarditis)
  • Mechanical heart valve

A clot can form on a heart valve, break off and travel to the brain. For this reason, those with mechanical or abnormal heart valves often must take blood thinners.

Hemorrahagic Stroke

When a blood vessel in the brain breaks and releases blood into the brain, a hemorrhagic stroke occurs. Some people have defects in the blood vessels of the brain that can make this more likely. Fewer people suffer hemorrhagic strokes than ischemic, yet the chance of survival after hemorrhagic stroke is lower.