What are the Different Forms of Stroke (Cerebrovascular Accident)?

Have you or a loved one recently suffered a cerebrovascular accident?

A cerebrovascular accident (CVA), commonly referred to as a stroke, is the rapidly developing loss of brain function(s) due to disturbance in the blood supply to the brain.

A cerebrovascular accident occurs when a blood vessel breaks or a blood clot blocks an artery interrupting the blood flow to a certain area of the brain.

When this happens, brain cells die and brain damage may occur. The loss of movement, speech and memory are caused by the death of these brain cells.

How a person suffering a stroke is affected depends on two things: 1. How badly the brain was damaged

2. Where the stroke occurred in the brain.

For example, an individual who has a minor stroke may experience weakness of an arm or leg. Whereas, an individual who has a larger stroke may be paralyzed on one side of their body or may lose their ability to speak.

Some individuals have a full stroke recovery but more than two-thirds of cerebrovascular accident survivors have some form of lasting disability.

What are the different forms of stroke?

Ischemic Stroke

In everyday life, blood clotting is normal and beneficial. When you suffer a cut and are bleeding, blood clots work to slow and then stop the bleeding.

In the case of a cerebrovascular accident, however, blood clots can block arteries and slow or cut off blood flow, a process called ischemia.

An ischemic cerebrovascular accident can occur in two ways: thrombotic and embolic strokes. Around 87% of all strokes are ischemic.

Thrombotic Stroke

In a thrombotic stroke, blood flow is impaired due to a blockage to the arteries that supply blood to the brain. This process is called thrombosis.

Cerebrovascular accidents that occur this way are referred to as thrombotic strokes. According to the National Stroke Association, the medical term for a blood clot that forms on a blood vessel deposit is thrombus.

Embolic Stroke

In the second type of blood clot stroke, a blood clot forms in the body, commonly in the heart, and travels through the bloodstream to the stroke victim's brain.

Once in the brain, the clot travels until it reaches a blood vessel too small for it to pass through. The clot lodges and blocks the blood vessel, which causes a stroke.

According to the National Stroke Association the medical term form this type of blood clot is embolus. Atrial fibrillation in the heart can cause clots that result in an embolic stroke.


Many of the cerebrovascular accidents resulting from blood clots happen as a result of blood vessels clogged with a buildup of cholesterol and fatty deposits.

The body regards these buildups as a number of tiny and repeated wounds to the wall of the blood vessel. The individual's body reacts to these repeated injuries as if it were bleeding from a wound.

The body responds by forming clots either in the region of the brain that can cause a thrombotic stroke or away from the brain that can cause an embolic stroke.


There are two main categories of strokes.

Ischemic (top), typically caused by a blood clot in an artery (1a) resulting in brain death to the affected area (2a).

Hemorrhagic (bottom), caused by blood leaking into or around the brain from a ruptured blood vessel (1b) allowing blood to pool in the affected area (2b) thus increasing the pressure on the brain.