Understanding Different Types of Strokes: Its Symptoms and Causes

November 29, 2023 0

A stroke, or cerebrovascular accident, is a medical emergency that occurs when the brain’s blood flow is disrupted or diminished. Brain cells die quickly if the brain does not receive enough oxygen and nutrients from the blood. The kind of stroke determines the severity and consequences, the affected area of the brain, and the amount of damage. 

“All motor control for the body flows through the brain stem, and a brain stem stroke can impair all of these functions,” said Dr. Vikas Gupta, one of the most promising neurosurgeons in Delhi. He is the senior consultant of neurosurgery and neuro-interventional surgery consultant at Kailash Deepak Memorial Hospital, Delhi, and has over 35 years of experience. 

Brain stem strokes can cause death, a coma, or “locked-in syndrome,” where someone can be paralyzed except for their eyes.

Strokes majorly impact people’s lives and can drastically decrease life expectancy. The good news is you can significantly reduce the risk of strokes by changes in your lifestyle.

“The average decrease following a stroke is more than nine years. And nearly 23 percent of stroke patients will experience a second stroke, Dr. Vikas says.

Dr. Vikas suggests conversing with your primary care provider and making changes to lower your risk factors.

Stroke is classified into three types: ischemic stroke, hemorrhagic stroke, and transient ischemic attack (TIA), sometimes known as a mini-stroke. Each has its own set of causes, symptoms, and therapies. 

  1. Acute Ischemic Stroke

An ischemic stroke is the most frequent stroke, accounting for approximately 87% of all instances. It happens when a blood clot develops and blocks blood flow in an artery that provides blood to the brain. 

This type of stroke can also develop when an artery in the brain becomes constricted or obstructed due to atherosclerosis, which is the development of fatty deposits inside the arterial walls. 

“A TIA is a warning sign of a future stroke. More than one-third of people with a TIA have a major stroke within one year,” Dr. Vikas Gupta says.

When I suffered an acute ischemic stroke, one of Dr. Vikas’ patients said his quick reaction to tPA medication made all the difference. His calm, kind demeanor gave me hope. I healed well because of him. Dr. Gupta is a real stroke specialist, and I will be eternally thankful for his assistance.”

Ischemic strokes are further subdivided into two types: thrombotic stroke and embolic stroke. 

  • Thrombotic Stroke: A thrombotic stroke happens when a blood clot forms in an artery that delivers blood to the brain. Typically, atherosclerosis is the source of a blood clot. 
  • Embolic Stroke: An embolic stroke occurs when a blood clot or other debris forms elsewhere in the body, such as in the heart, and travels through the bloodstream until it becomes lodged in a smaller artery in the brain. 

Lacunar stroke and cryptogenic stroke have also come under ischemic stroke.

  • Lacunar stroke: This type occurs when damage occurs to one of the small arteries deep in the brain. It typically causes weakness or numbness in the face or limbs.
  • Cryptogenic Stroke: It is the kind of stroke in which the cause of the stroke is not immediately identified. Despite a thorough evaluation, the underlying cause of the stroke remains unknown or “cryptogenic.” The cause of cryptogenic stroke is not always clear. Still, potential factors may include small blood clots or atherosclerosis in the blood vessels of the brain, heart rhythm disorders, or a potential source of embolism that has been resolved by the time of evaluation. 

Cryptogenic strokes account for a significant proportion of all ischemic strokes. Symptoms of an ischemic stroke can vary depending on the location and severity of the blockage. Common symptoms include sudden weakness or numbness in the face, arm, or leg, especially on one side of the body; sudden confusion or trouble speaking; sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes; sudden trouble walking; dizziness, loss of balance or coordination; and sudden severe headache with no known cause.

  1. Hemorrhagic Stroke

A hemorrhagic stroke occurs when a blood vessel in the brain ruptures and bleeds into the surrounding tissue. This type of stroke is less common than ischemic stroke. However, it is often more severe and has a higher risk of death. 

There are two main types of hemorrhagic stroke: intracerebral hemorrhage and subarachnoid hemorrhage. 

  • Intracerebral Haemorrhage: An intracerebral hemorrhage occurs when a blood vessel within the brain bursts and bleeds into the surrounding brain tissue. This type of stroke is often caused by high blood pressure or trauma to the head. 
  • Subarachnoid Hemorrhage: A subarachnoid hemorrhage occurs when bleeding between the brain and the thin tissues covering it. This type of stroke is often caused by a ruptured aneurysm, a weakened area in a blood vessel that balloons out and can burst. 

Symptoms of a hemorrhagic stroke can include sudden severe headaches, nausea and vomiting, seizures, and loss of consciousness. Other symptoms may also be present depending on the location and extent of the bleeding, such as weakness or numbness on one side of the body, difficulty speaking, and loss of balance or coordination. 

Dr. Gupta emphasizes that hemorrhagic strokes, though less common than ischemic strokes, can be life-threatening. He highlights the significance of managing high blood pressure as a preventive measure. Moreover, in cases of trauma to the head, he recommends seeking immediate medical attention to reduce the risk of intracerebral hemorrhage.

On subarachnoid hemorrhages, Dr. Gupta underlines the importance of recognizing the signs of a ruptured aneurysm. He encourages individuals to be aware of symptoms such as severe headaches, which should prompt immediate medical evaluation.

Another patient of Dr. Vikas showed his gratitude by saying, “I had a hemorrhagic stroke, and his quick action and expertise saved me. His care was reassuring, and he explained everything in a way I could understand. Thanks to him, I’m on the road to recovery. Dr. Gupta is an exceptional doctor, and I’m grateful for his help during this challenging time.”

  1. Transient Ischemic Attack

Transient ischemic attack (TIA), also known as a mini-stroke, is a temporary interruption in blood flow to the brain that causes similar symptoms to those of a stroke but typically lasts only a few minutes to a few hours. TIAs are caused by a temporary blockage of blood flow to the brain, usually due to a blood clot or a narrowing of the blood vessels in the brain. 

TIAs can cause sudden, brief episodes of symptoms such as weakness or numbness on one side of the body, temporary loss of vision or speech, dizziness or loss of balance, and sudden severe headaches. However, unlike a stroke, the symptoms of a TIA typically go away within a few hours, and there is no lasting damage to the brain. 

It is essential to seek medical attention immediately if you experience symptoms of a TIA, as it can be a warning sign of a future stroke. Your doctor may perform tests such as a CT scan or MRI to determine the cause of your symptoms and recommend treatment to prevent a future stroke. Treatment for TIA may involve medications to prevent blood clots, lifestyle changes such as quitting smoking or improving diet and exercise, and addressing underlying medical conditions such as high blood pressure or diabetes. 

Dr. Vikas Gupta stresses the critical nature of seeking immediate medical help if experiencing TIA symptoms. He emphasizes that TIAs serve as crucial warning signs for potential future strokes. He suggests undergoing diagnostic imaging such as a CT scan or MRI for a thorough diagnosis to identify underlying causes and ensure appropriate treatment.

He further highlights the importance of treatment measures such as medication to prevent blood clots, lifestyle changes, and addressing related medical conditions. These steps, he suggests, are vital in reducing the risk of a full-blown stroke in the future.

How Much Does Stroke Treatment in India Cost?

In India, the cost of ischemic stroke therapy ranges typically between INR 80,000 and INR 2,50,000, with most operations being simple. However, hemorrhagic stroke frequently demands lengthy ICU stays, with prices varied by city. 

A city-by-city analysis shows that, including medicine and surgery costs, stroke treatment in Mumbai ranges between 2.5 and 10 lakhs, Bangalore between 2 and 12 lakhs, Delhi between 1.5 and 10 lakhs, and Kochi between 1.5 and 8 lakhs. Thus, stroke treatment in India remains significantly cheaper than in nations such as the United States (USD 20,000 to 60,000) and Australia (USD 14,000 to 40,000).

However, the expense might fluctuate depending on particular case needs, the chosen hospital’s facilities, and any supplementary treatments necessary, impacting the overall treatment. 


Strokes can mainly be classified into three types. The symptoms of stroke can vary depending on the severity and location of the brain damage. Prompt diagnosis and treatment of stroke are crucial, as the longer the brain is deprived of oxygen and nutrients, the more severe and permanent the damage can be. Every minute is vital during the stroke. So consult your doctor as early as possible if your body shows any symptoms.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

  1. What are the common risk factors for stroke?

Risk factors for stroke include high blood pressure, smoking, diabetes, obesity, and a family history of stroke.

  1. Is there an age limit for experiencing a stroke?

Strokes can occur at any age, but the risk does increase with age.

  1. Can lifestyle changes indeed reduce the risk of strokes?

Yes, healthy lifestyle choices such as regular exercise, a balanced diet, and blood pressure control can significantly reduce the risk of strokes.

  1. How do I recognize the signs of a stroke?

Common signs of a stroke include sudden weakness or numbness, difficulty speaking, trouble seeing, dizziness, and severe headaches.

  1. Are there any advances in stroke treatment that improve patient outcomes?

Yes, medical advances and early interventions like tPA have improved outcomes for stroke patients by minimizing brain damage and complications.

Read Also:What are the 5 warning signs of stroke?

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