Ischemic and hemorrhagic strokes occur when there is limited blood flow to a part of the brain. When part of a person’s brain does not receive enough blood, oxygen starvation can cause the brain cells there to die.
An ischemic stroke happens when a blood clot or other particles
A hemorrhagic stroke occurs when a blood vessel in part of the brain leaks or bursts. The bleeding
According to the American Stroke Association, around
This article describes the similarities and differences between ischemic and hemorrhagic strokes, including their causes, symptoms, diagnosis, treatment, and prevention.
Ischemic and hemorrhagic strokes have different causes.
A blockage or clot in a blood vessel that leads to part of the brain
There are two types of ischemic stroke:
- Thrombotic strokes: These occur when blood begins to clot in a blood vessel leading to a part of the brain. A person may experience a transient ischemic attack, or ministroke,
beforethey experience a major thrombotic stroke.
- Embolic strokes: These occur when a blood clot from another part of the body reaches a part of the brain and gets stuck in a blood vessel there.
Learn more about the difference between thrombosis and embolism here.
During a hemorrhagic stroke, a blood vessel in part of the brain ruptures or leaks and
Additionally, the area of the brain that usually receives blood from the ruptured blood vessel
There are two main types of hemorrhagic stroke: intracerebral hemorrhage and subarachnoid hemorrhage. During an intracerebral hemorrhage, bleeding occurs from blood vessels within the brain, possibly due to high blood pressure.
During a subarachnoid hemorrhage, bleeding occurs in the subarachnoid space, which is the space between the brain and the membranes that cover it. The causes of a subarachnoid hemorrhage include:
- A cerebral aneurysm: This occurs when a weakened area in a blood vessel
enlarges, making it more likely to rupture.
- An arteriovenous malformation: This refers to a tangle of blood vessels in the brain that
directly divertsblood from the arteries to the veins instead of into the brain tissue.
- Trauma: In some cases, a traumatic brain injury may cause a subarachnoid hemorrhage.
The signs and symptoms of ischemic and hemorrhagic strokes are similar as they both
Symptoms of a stroke
- numbness or weakness on one side of the body or face
- difficulty speaking or understanding speech
- difficulty walking, lack of coordination, or loss of balance
- severe headache
Before a person receives any stroke treatment, healthcare professionals need to know which type of stroke a person is experiencing. Doctors typically diagnose the type of stroke based on a person’s symptoms and medical history, in addition to a physical exam and diagnostic tests.
A healthcare professional may conduct tests
- CT or MRI scans
- other types of imaging tests
- blood tests
- an electrocardiogram
- a lumbar puncture
Doctors aim to make a swift diagnosis of stroke so they can start treatment as soon as possible. The longer a person goes without treatment, the
The treatment of ischemic and hemorrhagic strokes differs.
If a person gets to a hospital
In other instances, when a person does not get to the hospital within 3 hours of the stroke occurring, they may receive other blood thinners or undergo clot removal surgery. A healthcare professional will determine the best course of treatment after diagnosis.
When treating a hemorrhagic stroke, the healthcare professional’s main aim is to stop the bleeding. Doctors may do this with the following:
- Endovascular procedures: These procedures are less invasive than surgical treatment and help repair weak spots in blood vessels.
- Surgical treatment: A surgeon may use a metal clip to seal the blood vessel and stop blood loss.
- Medications: A doctor
may administermedications to lower blood pressure, such as beta-blockers.
A person may be able to
It may help to make lifestyle changes, such as:
- quitting smoking, if applicable
- maintaining a moderate weight
- exercising regularly
- eating a healthy diet
Ischemic and hemorrhagic strokes have different causes. When a blood clot or other debris blocks a blood vessel leading to part of the brain, it causes an ischemic stroke. Hemorrhagic strokes occur due to ruptured blood vessels in an area of the brain.
Symptoms of ischemic and hemorrhagic strokes are similar and may include numbness and weakness down one side of the body, confusion, and headache.
Treatment of strokes depends on the cause. Healthcare professionals may use thrombolytic drugs to dissolve a clot that is causing a stroke. When this is not possible, a person may receive blood thinners or undergo surgery. For hemorrhagic strokes, a doctor may need to perform surgery to stop the bleeding.
Lifestyle changes such as keeping active and eating a healthy diet may help reduce the risk of stroke. It is best for a person to speak with a doctor for further information about their individual risk of experiencing a stroke.