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Types of Strokes

Stroke occurs when a clot disrupts blood flow to the brain. Many people think a stroke only affects the elderly, a common misconception. It can happen to anyone, at any time, regardless of age, gender, or race.

The two types of strokes are ischemic stroke and hemorrhagic stroke.

Ischemic Stroke

Most strokes happen when blood vessels to the brain become narrowed or blocked. These are called ischemic strokes. The goal of ischemic stroke treatment is to reopen the blocked vessel. This is done with a clot-busting medication called tissue plasminogen activator (tPA), which must be given within 3-4.5 hours of stroke onset. UI Health will administer the tPA upon arrival in the emergency department. Additional treatments for ischemic stroke can include procedures to surgically remove clots or plaque, and sometimes placing a metal stent in a blood vessel to prop it open and prevent a second blockage.

Hemorrhagic Stroke

Hemorrhagic strokes occur when a blood vessel bursts in or near the brain. These strokes are sometimes caused by ruptured aneurysms or abnormal clusters of blood vessels called an arteriovenous malformation (AVM). Surgery is often needed for hemorrhagic stroke treatment - to clip an aneurysm or remove an AVM. Devices called "coils" also are sometimes inserted to prevent rupture.

The UI Health team was the first in the state to coil aneurysms nonsurgically. We also are one of the few centers in the country to perform nidus embolization, a technique that cuts off the blood supply to the AVM — and which has a higher success rate than traditional procedures.

Transient Ischemic Attack

A transient ischemic attack (TIA) — also called a “mini-stroke” — occurs when a blood vessel in the brain is blocked for a short period of time, such as a few minutes to an hour. (A TIA lasts less than 24 hours). Symptoms of transient ischemic attack are similar to those of stroke and should be treated as an emergency, as it is not possible to tell if someone is experience a stroke or TIA.

The Right Stroke Treatment Starts with the Right Diagnosis

Effective stroke treatment depends on the kind of stroke a person is having. Our stroke doctors can quickly perform a series of stroke diagnostic tests, including:

  • An MRI to get a picture of the brain
  • An EEG to look at brain waves
  • An angiography to map out blocked vessels or aneurysms

If the results indicate a stroke, our doctors will quickly administer the appropriate treatment.