Diabetes and Strokes

People with diabetes are 4 – 6 times more likely to suffer a stroke than those in the general population. In fact, 2 out of 3 people with diabetes will actually die from stroke or heart disease, and strokes are the No. 3 cause of death in the United States.

What is a Stroke?

Stroke is a condition that affects the arteries leading to and inside the brain. A stroke occurs when one of the blood vessels to the brain is either blocked by a clot, or bursts. When that happens, part of the brain cannot get the blood (and oxygen) it needs, so it starts to die.

There are types of major strokes: ischemic and hemorrhagic, and a couple of variations within both those types. A third type of stroke, a transient ischemic attack, or TIA, is a minor stroke that is a warning sign that a more severe stroke may occur.

RFS - Stroke - blood vessel enlargementAn ischemic stroke, which makes up about 83% of all strokes, occurs when a blood vessel becomes blocked. The blockage may be a blood clot, but vessels may also become clogged with fat or cholesterol, a condition known as atherosclerosis. There are two different types of ischemic stroke, depending on the location the clots form. Clots that form inside a blocked blood vessel in the brain cause a thrombotic stroke. An Embolic stroke happens when a clot forms somewhere in the body and travels toward the brain until it gets lodged in a narrow artery, causing a blockage. Ischemic strokes may also be caused by a deformity in the valves of the heart, or an inflammation of the lining of the heart.

A hemorrhagic stroke occurs when a blood vessel in the brain bursts or breaks, causing bleeding in the brain. Hemorrhagic stroke can most often be traced to high blood pressure, but it may also be caused by an aneurysm which is when a weakened portion of a blood vessel balloons out and ruptures.

A transient ischemic attack (TIA) is sometimes referred to as a pre-stroke and is a warning sign of an impending stroke that could cause damage. A TIA generally does no damage but does produce temporary stroke symptoms which subside.

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