A stroke (also apoplexy; cerebral infarction) is an acute circulatory disorder of the arteries that supply the brain with blood. Worldwide, strokes are considered the second most common cause of death. The causes are manifold; the main risk factors include high blood pressure, atrial fibrillation, diabetes mellitus, obesity and nicotine consumption. The risk of suffering a stroke increases enormously with age, and men are affected more frequently than women.
Two forms of stroke are distinguished:
Ischemic stroke: This is the most common form of stroke. Due to a circulatory disturbance, individual areas of the brain are undersupplied. This leads to the death of cells and the destruction of subsequent tissue.
Hemorrhagic stroke: This involves acute cerebral hemorrhage. The most common cause is long-standing high blood pressure, which leads to vascular wall changes in the arteries in the brain and thus to bursting or rupture. The escaping blood increases the intracranial pressure and the tissue is not supplied with sufficient oxygen.