A stroke, or cerebral infarct, is typically caused by an insult to brain tissue, usually due to some form of blockage of blood flow that causes brain tissue to die. This can occur over a large territory of brain due to a large artery problem or it can occur over a small spot due to a small artery problem. A TIA, or transient ischemic attack, is typically caused by an insult to brain tissue, due to a brief and temporary blood vessel problem, that causes brain tissue to be temporarily injured. In TIA, brain tissue usually repairs itself, but it is a serious warning that a stroke may soon occur.
Symptoms of stroke and TIA depend on the area of the brain that is affected. Anyone can have a stroke, but there are certain factors that increase the risk. Stroke risk factors include advanced age, family history, hypertension, obesity, elevated cholesterol, diabetes, cigarette smoking, illicit drug use, cardiac arrhythmias such as atrial fibrillation, sedentary lifestyle, neck trauma, hypercoagulation status, and others.
Various medications can help to prevent stroke by lowering blood pressure, lowering cholesterol, reducing blood’s tendency to clot and other methods. Stroke prevention measures including removing the risk factors above if possible, such as discontinuing smoking, exercising regularly and being proactive in managing other medical problems.