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Glossary

A

Aneurysm is an abnormal widening or ballooning of a portion of an artery due to weakness in the wall of the blood vessel.

Anticoagulant is a substance that prevents clotting of blood.

Aspirin is a drug used to make blood platelets less “sticky” and help prevent the formation of unwanted blood clots.

Atherosclerosis is the hardening and narrowing of arteries due to plaque buildup around the artery wall.

Atrial Fibrillation (Afib) is an irregular and often rapid heart rate that can cause small pools of blood to form and clot within the heart.

C

Carotid artery dissection is a separation of the layers of the artery wall supplying oxygen-bearing blood to the head and brain. It is the most common cause of stroke in young adults.

Controllable risk factors are risk factors that can be controlled in order to reduce the chance of having a stroke.

Cryptogenic stroke is a stroke with no apparent cause.

CT (computed tomography) brain scan is a noninvasive diagnostic imaging procedure that uses a combination of X-rays and computer technology to produce horizontal images (often called slices) of the brain. CT scans are more detailed than standard X-rays.

E

Embolic stroke occurs when a blood clot forms somewhere in the body (usually the heart) and travels through the bloodstream to your brain. Once in your brain, the clot eventually travels to a blood vessel small enough to block its passage. The clot lodges there, blocking the blood vessel and causing a stroke. The medical word for this type of blood clot is embolus.

Endarterectomy is an operation to remove blockage in the lining of an artery constricted by the buildup of soft or hardening deposits. It is carried out by separating the plaque from the arterial wall.

F

FAST is an acronym used to help individuals remember the most common stroke symptoms: F = Face; the faces droops on one side A = Arms; one arms drifts downward when raised S = Speech; the speech is slurred or garbled T = Time; call 9-1-1 immediately when any of these symptoms occur

H

Hemorrhage means bleeding.

Hemorrhagic stroke occurs when a blood vessel in the brain bursts and spills blood into or around the brain.

Hypertension means high blood pressure.

I

Intracerebral hemorrhage ís when bleeding occurs from vessels within the brain itself.

Intracranial means within the skull.

Ischemic stroke occurs when an artery in the brain is blocked.

L

Lacunar infarction (or small vessel disease) occurs when blood flow is blocked to a very small arterial vessel.

M

Medication adherence refers to whether patients take their medications as prescribed, as well as whether they continue to take the prescribed medication.

Migraine is a type of severe headache that can cause stroke-like symptoms.

Mini-stroke is a term used to describe a TIA.

MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) brain scan is a test that uses a magnetic field and pulses of radio wave energy to take pictures of the brain and surrounding nerve tissues. In many cases, MRI gives information that cannot be seen on an X-ray, ultrasound or CT scan.

N

Neuroplasticity is the ability the brain has to “re-wire” or reorganize itself by forming new neural connections throughout life. Neuroplasticity allows the neurons (nerve cells) in the brain to compensate for injury.

P

PFO (patent foramen ovale) is a small “hole” in the heart which typically closes at birth. It often has no symptoms and is a risk factor for stroke.

R

Risk factors are certain aspects of a person’s lifestyle, genetics and medical conditions that can cause an increase in the risk of suffering a stroke.

S

Stroke occurs when a blood clot blocks an artery or a blood vessel breaks, interrupting blood flow to an area of the brain.

Subarachnoid hemorrhage occurs when an aneurysm bursts in a large artery on or near the thin and delicate membrane surrounding the brain.

T

Thrombolytic drugs can re-establish blood flow to the brain by dissolving clots that are blocking the flow. These drugs are an early treatment for ischemic stroke. They break up blood clots, allowing blood to flow through the blood vessels again.

Thrombolytic stroke occurs when blood flow is impaired because of a blockage to one or more of the arteries supplying blood to the brain.

TIA (transient ischemic attack), sometimes called a mini-stroke, is an event during which stroke symptoms last less than 24 hours before disappearing, and generally no permanent brain damage occurs.

tPA (tissue plasminogen activator) is an enzyme found naturally in the body that activates plasminogen into another enzyme to dissolve a blood clot.

U

Uncontrollable risk factors are risk factors that cannot be controlled, such as age, gender or genetic background.

W

Warfarin is an anticoagulant drug used to “thin” the blood and reduce the risk of blood clots forming. It is commonly prescribed as treatment for patients who have had a stroke caused by an irregular heartbeat.

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