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Neurology and Neuroscience

About Stroke

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Stroke occurs when a blood vessel is blocked by a clot (an "ischemic" stroke) or when a blood vessel in the brain ruptures ("hemorrhagic" stroke). Larger strokes can cause swelling and compression in the brain. In both types of stroke, the flow of oxygen-rich blood is cut off to a part of the brain, and brain cells die. As a result, a person suffers neurological deficits related to the part of the brain that is damaged.


Olajide A. Williams, M.D., a neurologist at NewYork-Presbyterian, discusses the different types of stroke.

Ischemic strokes are often the result of carotid artery disease, a buildup of plaque inside the walls of the arteries in the neck, which can restrict or block the flow of blood to the brain. Most hemorrhagic strokes occur as a consequence of high blood pressure, which can lead to rupture of tiny arteries deep within the brain.

illustration artery in brain with plaque
Ischemic stroke occurs when a blood vessel is blocked by a clot.

An early warning sign of an impending ischemic stroke is one or more transient ischemic attacks (TIAs) or "mini-strokes." TIAs are critical warning signs that a stroke may be on the way in the coming days or months. During a TIA, blood flow to part of the brain is temporarily restricted, leading to temporary neurological deficits. The symptoms may be the same as those of a stroke, but milder, and may last only a few minutes.

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