Types of Stroke
There are four main types of stroke:
- Ischemic Stroke
- Hemorrhagic Stroke
- Lacunar Stroke
- Transient Ischemic Attack (also known as a TIA, or mini stroke
Typically the most common type of stroke, this is caused by blockage of blood flow to the brain. The blockage can be due to:
Cerebral Thrombosis: This is a blood clot (thrombosis)
that forms directly in the main artery leading to the brain.
The part of the brain that is supplied by the clotted blood vessel is then deprived of blood and oxygen. The cells of that part of the brain die as a result.
Cerebral Embolism: This refers to a blood clot that forms in another place in the body. It breaks away from its original location and travels to the arteries leading to the brain. It then becomes lodged once again, blocking blood flow to the brain.
For example, a blood clot might originally form in the heart chamber as a result of an irregular heart beat. Usually, these clots remain attached to the inner lining of the heart.
However, they occasionally break off, travel through the blood stream and form a plug (embolism) in an artery supplying blood to the brain.
When this happens, the flow of oxygen-rich blood to the brain is
blocked and a stroke occurs. This type of stroke is referred to as an embolic stroke.
An embolism can also originate in a large artery (for example, the carotid artery, a major artery in the neck that supplies blood to the brain) and then travel downstream to clog a smaller artery within the brain.
Atherosclerosis: The main cause of ischemic stroke is narrowing of the arteries. This occurs as cholesterol and calcium (called, plaque) build up on the inner walls of the arteries.
These deposits begin to form a narrow pathway, constricting
As the deposits increase in size the pathway for blood flow becomes increasingly thinner. As this narrowing process takes place, it becomes more likely for a blood clot to develop.
The build up of plaque may also cause the artery walls to become fragile. This can lead to the rupture of an artery wall causing loss of blood flow to the brain.
Blood clots can be made more likely by several factors:
- when the heart is beating irregularly (arrhythmia). This is especially likely with a condition known as atrial fibrillation, or when the heart has an artificial valve
- After a heart attack
- If the blood pressure drops excessively, as it would, for instance, during major loss of blood, or a severe infection
- Surgery on the carotid arteries, which carry blood through the neck
- Diseases that make the blood more likely to clot, or which cause the blood vessels to be inflamed
Conditions that Cause a Higher Risk
of Blood Clots:
Injury to the inner walls of the blood vessels and sluggish blood flow are associated with certain conditions.
People with these conditions are more at risk to develop
- Atrial fibrillation
- Auto-immune disorders
- Bleeding disorders like hemophilia
- Certain cancers
- Genetic factors
- Heart valve disease
- Heart failure
- High blood pressure
- History of varicose veins or other vascular diseases
- Trauma to a blood vessel due to a recent heart attack or stroke
This type of stroke occurs when a blood vessel in the brain
bursts and bleeds into the surrounding brain tissue. A cerebral
hemorrhage (bleeding in the brain) can cause a hemorrhagic stroke by depriving blood and oxygen to parts of the brain.
A hemorrhagic stroke is the second most common type of stroke.
Bleeding in the brain can result from the rupture of an aneurysm
- a weakness in a blood vessel that may have existed from birth.
Blood vessels can also weaken because of infection, a head injury, radiotherapy to the head, or a blood clotting disorder.
In this type of stroke a blood vessel in or around the brain ruptures causing bleeding, or a hemorrhage. The build up of blood presses on the brain damaging its delicate tissue, while other brain cells in the area are starved of blood and damaged.
In this type of cerebral hemorrhage the burst blood vessel bleeds into the subarachnoid space surrounding the brain.
The subarachnoid area of the brain is located between the outside of the brain and the inside of the skull.
Subarachnoid hemorrhages usually cause a sudden, severe headache
and are often complicated by further neurological problems, such
as paralysis, coma, and even death.
The most common cause of a subarachnoid hemorrhage is head trauma
or abnormalities of the blood vessels.
A subarachnoid hemorrhage is one of the deadliest types of stroke.
There are smaller blood vessels that branch off larger arteries and extend deep within the brain. When these tiny blood vessels in the brain become blocked it's called a lacunar stroke.
Typically, a clot forms in a small blood vessel deep within the brain that has been previously narrowed due to long-term, damaging effects. This is usually caused by high blood pressure (hypertension) or diabetes.
The resulting type of stroke is called a lacunar stroke because the affected arteries resemble little lakes.
Lacunar strokes are usually less severe than other types of stroke. If treated early, full recovery is possible. However, this type of stroke can cause a significant disability.
A person with prolonged, untreated high blood pressure or uncontrolled diabetes is at the greatest risk for this type of stroke.
Transient Ischaemic Attack (TIA)
A transient ischemic attack, often known as a mini-stroke, is when the blood supply to the brain is interrupted for a shorter period of time - anything from a few minutes to 24 hours - followed by complete recovery.
It's typically not considered a type of stroke because although there is some type of reduction in blood flow to the brain, it is typically resolved without any intervention.
The difference between a transient ischemic attack and a stroke is that the symptoms of a TIA are temporary.
However, just because the symptoms may quickly disappear, they should never be ignored.
In approximately one in five people a TIA is typically a warning sign that a more severe type of stroke could be at hand.
The Effects of Stroke
Regardless of the type of stroke, results typically cause paralysis or muscle weakness, loss of feeling, speech and language problems, memory and reasoning problems, swallowing difficulties, problems of vision or visual perception, coma, and even death.
Despite these physical and neurological difficulties most stroke survivors progress and move on to live productive lives.
Keep in mind that recovery can also depend upon the motivational
level of the stroke survivor. Motivation and the desire to practice lost skills play a significant role during the recovery process.
Improving Communication Skills
Improving speech and language skills is one of the most important
advancements during recovery. An overall ability to communicate
will help stroke survivors return to employment, hobbies, and
their family life.
Stroke survivors can improve their speech and language progress through intensive therapy. A critical starting point is having the opportunity to practice speech and language skills more than a few times each week.
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For more information on how to improve your speech and language skills please follow the link below:
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