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A stroke occurs when blood flow to a part of the brain stops. There are two major types of stroke:

  • Ischemic stroke
  • Hemorrhagic stroke

Ischemic stroke occurs when a blood vessel is blocked by a blood clot. Ischemic strokes can also be caused by arterial plaque.

A hemorrhagic stroke occurs when a blood vessel in the brain becomes weak and bursts open causing blood to leak into the brain.

Risk factors for strokes include:

  • High blood pressure
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Diabetes
  • Family history of stroke
  • Being male
  • High cholesterol
  • Increasing age
  • Obesity
  • History of prior stroke or TIA

Graphic showing the signs of a stroke using the F.A.C.E. acronym.

Signs & Symptoms

Signs and symptoms of a stroke include:

  • Headache
  • Change in alertness
  • Changes in hearing or taste
  • Changes that affect touch and the ability to feel pain, pressure, or different temperatures
  • Confusion or loss of memory
  • Problems swallowing
  • Problems writing or reading
  • Dizziness or abnormal feeling of movement
  • Eyesight problems, such as decreased vision, double vision, or total loss of vision
  • Lack of control over the bladder or bowels
  • Loss of balance or coordination, or trouble walking
  • Muscle weakness in the face, arm, or leg on one side
  • Numbness or tingling on one side of the body
  • Personality, mood, or emotional changes
  • Trouble speaking or understanding others


A Deborah Specialty Physician will perform an exam to:

  • Check for problems with vision, movement, feeling, reflexes, understanding, or speaking
  • Listen to the carotid arteries in the neck with a stethoscope for an abnormal sound, called a bruit, which is caused by abnormal blood flow
  • Check for high blood pressure

These additional tests will likely be ordered:

  • CT scan of the brain to determine if there is any bleeding
  • MRI of the brain to determine the location of the stroke
  • Angiogram of the head to look for a blood vessel that is blocked or bleeding
  • Carotid ultrasound to see if arteries in the neck have narrowed
  • Echocardiogram to see if the stroke could have been caused by a blood clot from the heart
  • Magnetic resonance angiography (MRA) or CT angiography to check for abnormal blood vessels in the brain