What is Stroke?

The World Health Organisation defines stroke as Ďa clinical syndrome, of presumed vascular origin, typified by rapidly developing signs of focal or global disturbance of cerebral functions lasting more than 24 hours or leading to death' .

Stroke can be due to a cerebral infarction or a cerebral haemorrhage. The focus of this package will be on cerebral infarction, which is the commonest type of stroke (about 80%).

Cerebral bleeds can be intracranial haemorrhage or sub-arachnoid haemorrhage. Both can present as strokes, but are managed differently to cerebral infarctions.

Cerebral infarction is related to risk factors such as hypertension, diabetes, smoking, atrial fibrillation or hypercholesterolaemia. There are many other risk factors, which are less common (pro-thrombotic conditions, infective endocarditis, alcohol, intravenous drug use etc).