Woman holding experiencing headache


What is a Stroke?

A stroke is an abrupt or sudden interruption affecting the arteries leading to and within the brain. When a stroke occurs, the blood supply to a part of the brain is either blocked by a clot or ruptures, which deprives the brain of oxygen and nutrients, and causes brain cells to die. Strokes are a type of cardiovascular disease.

What are the symptoms of a stroke?

There are many clues and symptoms of stroke to look out for. If the following signs occur, seek immediate medical health and note when the symptoms started:

What causes strokes?

High blood pressure (hypertension) is the most important known risk factor for stroke. High blood pressure can damage blood vessel walls and over time, this may lead to a stroke.

A stroke can occur in two main ways. It can either be caused by a blocked artery or the bursting of a blood vessel.

What are the different type of strokes?

There are three different types of strokes including:

Ischaemic Stroke

Approximately four out of five strokes are ischaemic. This occurs when the arteries to the brain become narrowed or blocked, severely reducing blood flow to the brain. The two common ischaemic strokes are:

Haemorrhagic Stroke

Around one in every five strokes is haemorrhagic. A haemorrhagic stroke occurs when a blood vessel in the brain ruptures, causing blood to leak into the brain. The two common types of haemorrhagic stroke include:

Transient ischaemic attack

A transient ischaemic attack (TIA) or “mini stroke” has the same symptoms as a stroke but these disappear within 24 hours. The causes are similar to that of a stroke and a TIA should be regarded as a warning sign, as approximately one in five people who have a TIA will have a major stroke within the next three months.

How are strokes diagnosed?

To determine the possible type of stroke, and the area of the brain most affected, doctors may need to run the following diagnostic tests:

How is a stroke treated? What treatments are available?

Treatment will depend on the type of stroke experienced as differentiated below.

Ischaemic stroke treatment

To treat an ischaemic stroke, doctors need to restore blood flow to the brain quickly. Doctors may do this through:

Haemorrhagic stroke treatment

Treatment of a haemorrhagic stroke focuses on controlling the bleeding and reducing pressure in the brain. Doctors may need to do the following:

Stroke recovery and rehabilitation

Every patient’s recovery differs and depends on the condition. Treatment may include:

How can you prevent a stroke from happening?

A stroke can happen to anyone. Certain unchangeable factors like age, gender and family history can lead to an increased risk of stroke, however lifestyle modifications can prevent the likelihood of stroke from occurring. These include:

Acknowledgement of Country

The Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute acknowledges Traditional Owners of Country throughout Australia and recognises the continuing connection to lands, waters and communities. We pay our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures; and to Elders past and present.

Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute - The Home of Heart Research for 30 Years