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Classification and external resources
CT scan slice of the brain showing a right-hemispheric ischemic stroke.
eMedicineneuro/9 emerg/558 emerg/557 pmr/187

A stroke is an event which damages part of the brain. This can happen if an artery that feeds blood to the brain gets clogged, or if it tears and leaks.

A stroke, or cerebrovascular accident (CVA), is the rapid loss of brain function(s) due to disturbance in the blood supply to the brain. This can happen because of ischemia (lack of blood flow) caused by blockage (thrombosis, arterial embolism), or a haemorrhage (leakage of blood).[1]

As a result, the affected area of the brain cannot work properly. Symptoms might include: hemiplegia (an inability to move one or more limbs on one side of the body), aphasia (inability to understand or use speech), or an inability to see one side of the visual field.[2]

A stroke is a medical emergency. It can cause permanent damage. If it is not quickly treated, it may lead to death. It is the third most common cause of death and the most common cause of disability for adults in the United States and Europe.

Factors that increase the risk of a stroke include old age, high blood pressure, a previous stroke, diabetes, high cholesterol, smoking, atrial fibrillation, migraine with aura, and thrombophilia (a tendency to thrombosis). Of those factors, the most easy to fix are high blood pressure and smoking.

Further reading

  • J.P. Mohr et al. (2004). Stroke: pathophysiology, medical diagnosis, and management. New York: Churchill Livingstone. ISBN 0-443-06600-0.
  • Perry, Thomas and Miller Frank (1961). Pathology: a dynamic introduction to medicine and surgery. Boston: Little, Brown and Company.


  1. Sims NR, Muyderman H (September 2009). "Mitochondria, oxidative metabolism and cell death in stroke". Biochimica et Biophysica Acta 1802 (1): 80–91. doi:10.1016/j.bbadis.2009.09.003 . PMID 19751827 .
  2. Donnan GA, Fisher M, Macleod M, Davis SM (May 2008). "Stroke". Lancet 371 (9624): 1612–23. doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(08)60694-7 . PMID 18468545 .

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