What Happens During A Stroke?

A stroke is damage to brain cells when the blood flow to the brain is compromised. Like all the muscles and organs in the human body, the brain needs a steady blood flow. What happens during a stroke? When the blood flow is interrupted, the cells of the brain that have lost their blood supply begin to die.

The blockage of the blood flow can occur if the arteries to the brain have become hardened and narrowed due to atherosclerosis. The atherosclerosis is a buildup of cholesterol plaque in the artery which narrows and can even block the available space for blood flow. Often, the narrowed opening becomes blocked by a blood clot, but a piece of the plaque could break off and block an artery to the brain.

The brain has numerous tiny arteries. If one of these becomes blocked, it causes those brain cells to die. A blood clot that may form in the heart can travel to the brain and block the blood flow to the brain. Another possible cause is if one of the tiny arteries in the brain ruptures or develops a leak. This rupture can stop the blood from reaching its destination and the portion of the brain in contact with the blood can swell and cause more damage to brain cells.

Stroke symptoms can vary from no noticeable symptoms to coma or death. The acronym F.A.S.T. is used to help discern if a person is having a stroke. The F stands for face which is a signal to check if the person’s smile is droopy or lower on one side, the person has a severe headache, or changes in vision. A is for arms. If the person cannot lift both arms or one arm drops downward, it is the sign of a stroke. The S is for speech which may be slurred if the person is having a stroke. T is for time. Time is crucial and emergency medical services should be called immediately if a stroke is suspected.

The damage to the person’s ability to function normally may be temporary. If the stroke lasts twenty-four hours or less, the person is likely to be able to regain the functioning of the body that is controlled by the part of the brain that is damaged. Generally, if the left side of the brain is damaged, the control of the right side of the body is impaired. If the stroke damaged the right side of the brain, the person has impaired control of the left side of the body.

High blood pressure and atherosclerosis are risk factors for stroke. High blood pressure is often the cause of a stroke from a ruptured artery in the brain. Atherosclerosis causes a stroke by narrowing the arteries and causing the blockages of the artery to the brain.


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