Stroke, types of stroke and risk factors

What is Stroke?

Stroke is condition, in which blood flow to brain cell is interrupted causing brain cells to die. There is constant supply of blood which carries oxygen and nutrients from heart through arteries to brain cells for its function. Arteries spread to different specific area of the brain for supplying blood. Stroke occurs when one of such arteries is either blocked or ruptures. As a result brain cells at that particular are not receiving oxygenated blood it need and start dying. There are several factors which can put you in a risk of stroke. Stroke can further leads to disability and even death. Here we are discussing about Stroke, types of stroke and risk factors.

Types of Stroke

Hemorrhagic Strokes (Bleeds):

Hemorrhagic Stroke is less common, but tends to be more fatal.It occurs when blood vessel ruptures causing disruption of blood flow in brain. There are mainly two types of hemorrhagic strokes.

Intracerebral Hemorrhagic stroke:

It happens when blood vessel or artery ruptures and bleeds within the brain tissue and damage the tissue in that area. Intracerebral Hemorrhagic stroke are most often caused by rupture of blood vessel due to high blood pressure in arterial wall which was already damaged by atherosclerosis or aging blood vessel. Atherosclerosis is the process of accumulation of fats, cholesterols, triglyceride and other substance in the artery wall, making the artery narrow and hard.

Subarachnoid Hemorrhagic Stroke:

It occurs when aneurysm (aneurysm is blood filled part of an artery that balloons out from an artery, it occurs when blood pressure forces weaken part of an artery to balloon outward) ruptures near the surface of the brain and bleeds into the subarachnoid space, an area between the brain and the skull.

High blood pressure, cigarette smoking, using illegal drug, consuming excessive alcohol etc promote this type of stroke.

Sometime Hemorrhagic stroke is caused by an Arteriovenous malfunction (AVM) which is an abnormal connection between arteries and veins.

Ischemic Stroke (Clots):

It is most common type of stroke, causing over 80% of all strokes.(1)It results from obstruction of blood flow from heart to brain tissue in a clogged artery mainly due to atherosclerosis causing brain tissue to die. High blood pressure is the important risk factor for Ischemic stroke.

Thrombotic Ischemic stroke:

It is caused due to formation of blood clot (thrombus) in a narrowed artery to the brain due to atherosclerosis. Which results blockage of blood flow to the part of the brain and as a result the brain tissue of that area dies.

Embolic Ischemic Stroke:

This type of stroke is occurred due to dislodged blood clot in an large artery normally in heart or neck, travelled through bloodstream to the brain and blocks an artery in the brain or heading to the brain.

Transient Ischemic Attacks (TIAs):

It occurs when blood flow through an artery within the brain or goes to the brain is blocked or slows down by tiny emboli (small pieces of blood clot and cholesterol plaque) for a short period of time. They temporarily block the blood supply to the brain and normally break up and dissolve quickly. It is like a mini stroke. You should take it as alarming signal.

Signs of stroke:  Face drooping, sudden trouble in speaking, seeing, walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination, feeling sudden severe headache with no cause, sudden weakness in face, arm or leg.(2)

Major risk factors leading to stroke:

Individual with following health conditions is at more risk of having stroke

Age and gender:

Risk of stroke increases with age. Women are more prone to stroke due to factors such as pregnancy, history of preeclampsia/eclampsia or gestational diabetes, oral contraceptive use (especially when combined with smoking) and post-menopausal hormone therapy.(3 4)

Unbalanced cholesterol level:

Unbalanced cholesterol level may put you in risk of atherosclerosis. Atherosclerosis can cause obstruction to blood flow in arteries putting a person more at risk for a stroke, transient ischemic attack (TIA), or other heart disease.

Carotid Artery Disease:

There are two common carotid arteries one on each side of the neck and they further subdivided into internal and external arteries. Any disease in artery may contribute to stroke, but as carotid arteries are more close to brain, disease in carotid arteries can easily lead to stroke. Factors cause damage to carotid arteries are atherosclerosis (plaque build ups in artery walls due to higher level of certain fats and cholesterol), smoking, high blood pressure, high blood sugar due to insulin resistance or diabetes.(5)

High Blood Pressure (Hypertension):

Uncontrolled high blood pressure leads several complications. It damages inner lining of artery leading to Coronary artery disease, forces heart to continuously work harder than necessary in order to pump blood, which further contributes to higher risk of stroke, heart failure and sudden cardiac death.(6)


Obesity or Increased fats in body further lead to complications like atherosclerosis, heart disease, metabolic syndrome, high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol etc putting you at risk.

You can check your body mass index (BMI) here in NIH calculator


Over time People with high blood sugar due to diabetes are more prone to developing several disease and medical complication, which may further put health to higher risk of stroke.

Atrial Fibrillation:

Atrial Fibrillation is a condition of irregular heartbeat. It allows blood to pool in the heart which further leads to blood clots, stroke, heart failure and other heart-related complications. (7 8)

Physical in-activeness:

Physical inactivity further leads to obesity, body fat accumulation and other health complications.


Smoking causes damage to artery by thickening wall and narrowing blood vessel. It also may promote blood clot to form which further may lead to blockage of blood flow. Second smoking is more chemically reactive and caused more damage.  Apart from these smoking has many health negative effects.

Consuming excessive alcohol:

As per National Stroke Association, consuming excessive alcohol can increase blood pressure and the risk of stroke.(9)

Stress/Psychological factors:

Having prolonged high stress may be linked to a higher risk of stroke, according to an analysis of several studies.(10)

Illegal drug:

The most commonly abused drugs, including cocaine, amphetamines and heroin, have linked with an increased risk of stroke. Illegal drugs commonly cause hemorrhagic strokes.(11)

Genetic or Family History:

Someone having a family history of stroke, they are in a higher possibility of having heart stroke than normal one.


Experience of stroke is varied with different race. This is partly because some are more susceptible to high blood pressure, diabetes, and obesity. (12)

I hope this information will give you some brief idea about stroke and types of stroke. By knowing the risk factors it will helps you to minimize risk of having stroke. You can also read 8 proven ways to reduce risk of stroke naturally.

Source and reference:

Bikramjit Konwar

Author: Bikramjit Konwar


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