Stroke (Types and Signs)

What causes a stroke? Learn about the different types of strokes and how to identify the signs of this medical emergency.

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What is Stroke?

The brain needs oxygen and nutrients, which are supplied by blood through blood vessels. A stroke occurs when there is a disruption of blood flow to the brain. The area of the brain which is deprived of blood is thus damaged, resulting in signs and symptoms of stroke.

 
An analogy of stroke using a garden with pipes supplying water to explain how stroke occurs

How Common is Stroke?

One in six people will suffer from a stroke in their lifetime
It can happen to anyone regardless of age, gender, ethnicity, or socio-economic status

Types of Stroke 

There are a few main types of stroke. 

Ischaemic Stroke: Blocked Artery

 

This is the most common type of stroke. This occurs when a blood clot is lodged in an artery and cuts off blood supply to the brain. It is usually caused by either:

Embolism — a blood clot from the heart is dislodged and travels to the brain.


Thrombosis — blockage of a brain blood vessel due to underlying narrowing from fatty plaque formation.

Haemorrhagic Stroke: “Burst Artery”



This occurs when there is a rupture of a blood vessel, causing bleeding in the brain. It is usually caused by:
High blood pressure
Defects in the blood vessel wall such as cerebral aneurysms

Transient Ischaemic Stroke (TIA): “Mini-stroke”
This happens when there is a temporary interruption of blood supply to the brain. Thus, there is no permanent brain damage and the symptoms go away completely within a few minutes.

Related: You Can Spot a Stroke

​​​About the Brain 

The brain has two sides (right and left), and is divided into several areas that control different functions. The location of the brain damage will determine the signs and symptoms of stroke.

  

Your doctors may describe the location of your stroke. Here are the different parts of the brain:
Frontal lobe
Parietal lobe
Temporal lobe
Occipital lobe
Cerebellum
Brainstem


Related: When The Brain is Ill

Signs and Symptoms of Stroke

Every patient is affected by stroke differently. The signs and symptoms depend on the area of damage in the brain.

Physical

 

Weakness

  • You may experience weakness in one or both sides of the body. This weakness varies in severity.

  • Weakness of the face muscle may result in facial drooping, drooling and speech difficulty.

Incoordination of Movements

  • You may experience difficulty in standing, walking or performing delicate tasks.

Refer to physiotherapy and occupational therapy fact sheets for more information.

Sensation

Numbness

  • You may experience reduced or loss of sensation over one side or specific parts of your body.

  • You may experience abnormal extra feeling over one side of your body such as tingling or electric sensation.

Vision

 

Visual Impairment

  • You may experience double vision or loss of vision in one side or area of your visual field.

Communication

 

Slurring of Speech (“Dysarthria”)

  • You may experience difficulty in articulating words. This may cause your speech to be unclear, slow or soft.

Language Impairment (“Dysphasia”)

  • You may experience inability to understand or express words, phrases and sentences, in both verbal and written form.

Refer to speech therapy fact sheets for more information.

Swallowing

 

Difficulty with Swallowing (“Dysphagia”)

  • You may experience difficulty with drinking and eating. It can cause coughing and choking leading to an increase risk of lung infection.

Refer to swallowing problem fact sheets for more information.

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Stroke (Types and Signs)

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