Definitions of ischemic, embolic and thrombotic strokes
The ability of your body to create blood clots saves your life when an injury starts to bleed. Sticky platelets and plasma proteins collect at the site of the injury to block the flow of blood and allow for healing to take place. But sometimes, blood clotting goes wrong, blocks blood flow and causes several types of dangerous strokes. Strokes are medical emergencies that require immediate attention. Always seek prompt medical attention should a stroke be suspected.
Majority of strokes are ischemic. According to the Mayo Clinic, most strokes are considered the ischemic type — as many as 90 percent, in fact. This type of stroke occurs when there is a blockage in a blood vessel of blood flow to the brain. Without normal blood flow, the brain is deprived of lifegiving oxygen and nutrients. It takes mere minutes for brain cells to die off en masse. This is why prompt attention is required for the best possible outcome, mitigating damage, complication and death. There are two types of ischemic strokes:
- Embolic stroke — This type of stroke involves a blood clot or other fragment that forms in a blood vessel, usually in the heart or another vessel away from the brain. As blood flows through the veins, the clot or debris becomes lodged in the skinnier arteries of the brain. This clot is then called an embolus. Abnormal heartbeats can be the cause of this type of stroke; when blood pools in the heart, blood clots develop and can dislodge and travel around the bloodstream, getting stuck in narrow places.
- Thrombotic stroke — A thrombotic stroke happens when a clot or thrombus forms in an artery leading to the brain. Typically these clots occur in areas of the artery that is already damaged by plaques, as in atherosclerosis. The carotid arteries of the neck and other neck and brain arteries are the usual sites for a thrombus to form.