Stroke is a sudden loss of brain function caused by the interruption of blood flow to the brain, as a result of either an ischemic stroke (a blood clot) or a hemorrhagic stroke (the rupture of a blood vessel and bleeding into or around the brain).
The interruption of blood flow to the brain causes brain cells (neurons) in the affected area to die. The effects of a stroke depend upon which part of the brain was injured and how much damage has occurred. About 80% of strokes are ischemic and 20% are hemorrhagic.
Stroke is a leading cause of disability worldwide, and approximately 400,000 Canadians are living with the effects of a stroke. It is also the third leading cause of death in Canada. About 60% of people who have had a stroke are left with some form of disability such as paralysis, sensory loss, memory loss, language problems, and vision problems. Some people may also suffer from depression or other emotional conditions after a stroke.
Risk factor modification, medications and, in some cases, surgery can help to minimize the risk of having a stroke.