What is stroke?

What is stroke?

A stroke happens when blood stops flowing to any part of your brain, damaging brain cells. The effects of a stroke depend on the part of the brain that was damaged and the amount of damage done. Knowing how your brain works can help you understand your stroke.

Types of stroke

The effects of your stroke depend on the type of stroke, the part of the brain that was damaged and the amount of damage.

Brain with inset of a vein containing blocked  blood vessels.  Label: Blood clot stops the flow of blood to an area of the brain.  © Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada

Ischemic stroke

Caused by a blockage or clot in a blood vessel in your brain. The blockage can be caused when a substance called plaque builds up on the inside wall of an artery.

Brain with inset of ruptured blood vessels..  Label: Weakened/diseased blood vessels rupture. Blood leaks into brain tissue.  © Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada

Hemorrhagic stroke

Caused when an artery in the brain breaks open. The interrupted blood flow causes damage to your brain. High blood pressure weakens arteries over time and is a major cause of hemorrhagic stroke.

Transient ischemic attack (TIA)

Caused by a small clot that briefly blocks an artery. It is sometimes called a mini-stroke or warning stroke. The TIA symptoms usually last less than an hour, and may only last a few minutes. TIAs are an important warning that a more serious stroke may occur soon. They are a medical emergency – call 9-1-1.

Stroke and Women

Women’s bodies are not the same as men’s and stroke affects them differently – and more severely – at different stages of life.

Vascular cognitive impairment

VCI is a disorder of the mind – ranging from forgetfulness to more serious problems. The relationships between VCI, stroke and heart disease are deep and complex, and need more research.

Stroke in children

Stroke can happen at any point in a person’s lifetime, from infancy to adulthood.