Long-Term Care

Trainer’s tip: Recognize stroke types and causes

LTC Nursing Assistant Trainer, November 4, 2010

There are a variety of types of strokes, which can be triggered by unique causes. Some of those types and causes include:

Embolic stroke – A clot develops in a part of the body other than the brain (commonly the heart). It travels through the bloodstream into the brain, where it lodges in a small artery. This stroke occurs suddenly and without warming. Approximately 15% of embolic strokes occur in persons with atrial fibrillation.
Ischemic stroke – The most common type of stroke; it accounts for approximately 80% of all strokes and is caused by a clot or other blockage within an artery leading to the brain.
Thrombotic stroke – A clot forms in the blood vessels of the brain, usually one of the cerebral arteries. It remains attached to the artery wall until it grows large enough to occlude blood flow. It may be preceded by one or more TIAs.
Lacunar infarct – Small, deep infarcts located mainly in the basal ganglia and thalamus that may also affect the brain stem, internal and external capsules, and periventricular white matter. When a stroke occurs due to a small vessel disease, a very small infarction results, sometimes called a lacunar infarction. It is most likely caused by atherosclerotic occlusion of perforating branches and accounts for approximately 25% of all ischemic strokes.
Cerebral hemorrhage – Caused by the sudden rupture of an artery in the brain. Blood spills out, compressing brain structures. Approximately 20% of strokes are caused by hemorrhage.
Subarachnoid hemorrhage – Caused by the sudden rupture of an artery. The location of the rupture leads to blood filling the space surrounding the brain rather than inside of it.

This is an excerpt from the HCPro book, The Long-Term Care Nursing Desk Reference, Second Edition, by Barbara Acello, MS, RN.

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