TYPES OF STROKE
Ischaemic Stroke is the most commonest type of stroke
What is it?
An ischaemic stroke occurs when blood clots block the flow of blood to the brain. Blood clots typically form in areas where the arteries have been narrowed or blocked.
What causes it?
- Atherosclerosis – blood clots form in areas where there has been narrowing of the arteries caused by the build up of fatty cholesterol - containing deposits known as plaques
- High Blood Pressure – also know as hypertension
- High cholesterol levels (caused by high fat diets but can result from inherited factors)
- Excessive alcohol which can cause obesity and make blood pressure worse, cause heart damage and an irregular heartbeat
- Diabetes - If poorly controlled, the excess glucose in the blood can damage the arteries
- Atrial Fibrillation – irregular heart beat caused by high blood pressure, coronary artery disease, disease of the heart valves, cardiomyopathy (wasting of the heart muscle) pericarditis (inflammation of the bag surrounding the heart.
- Hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid gland) can cause high levels of cholesterol in the blood
- Excessive caffeine intake
Haemorrhagic Stroke (also known as cerebral or intracranial haemorrhage)
What is a haemorrhagic stroke?
When a blood vessel in the brain bursts and bleeds into the brain.
What causes it?
- High blood pressure (hypertension) which can weaken the arteries in the brain causing them to split or rupture
- Being overweight
- Drinking excessive amounts of alcohol
- Lack of exercise
- Stress, which can affect blood pressure
- Anticoagulant therapy. This a treatment which is given to prevent blood clots, however all anticoagulants carry a risk of bleeding.
Transient Ischaemic Attack (TIA)
What is it?
When the blood supply of blood to the brain is temporarily interrupted causing a ‘mini’ stroke’ The TIA can be a warning sign that there is a risk of having a full stroke at a later stage. Symptoms can be similar to a stroke, such as speech and visual disturbance and numbness or weakness in the arms and legs. The effects last for a short period of time and are usually resolved within 24 hours.
In the early stages of a TIA, it's not possible to tell whether you are having a TIA or a full stroke, so it's important to phone 999 immediately and ask for an ambulance.
Preventing an Ischaemic stroke in AF
Anticoagulants such as Apixaban, Dabigatran, Edoxaban, Rivaroxaban and Warfarin are oral medications which are prescribed to reduce the risk of strokes particularly in conditions such as Atrial Fibrillation (AF)
Warfarin which can be affected by food and alcohol needs to be regularly monitored by blood tests to ensure that the blood level (International Normalised Ratio – INR) is in range to prevent a clot or bleed from occurring.
Apixaban, Dabigatran, Edoxaban and Rivaroxaban do not need to be monitored in the same way as warfarin but will need to have kidney function levles checked periodically