Main differences between ischaemic and haemorrhagic stroke

Why is it so important to correctly diagnose the type of stroke a person is having? In the following article we tell you the basic differences between these two types of stroke.

As this article from the Clinica las Condes explains, ischaemic and haemorrhagic stroke have similar symptoms, and to identify them and a brain scan should be performed to identify them.

The same article shows some worrying figures:

  • 5 million people worldwide suffer a stroke every year.
  • 5 million die and another 5 million are left with some degree of permanent disability.
  • In Chile, it is the leading cause of death.


Now, why is it so important to know from the outset what type of stroke it is? Precisely because the treatment will depend on it. Let's look at the differences between ischaemic and haemorrhagic stroke.

As states both cases involve an interruption of the blood flow to the brain.. This causes the brain tissue to be deprived of oxygenation. It is caused by a blockage or closure of a cerebral artery. Both are usually sudden in onset and the main thing is to get prompt attention. In terms of symptoms, there may be an inability to move a hand (and later the arm), affect one side of the body and also be more subtle (severe headache, vomiting, dizziness, among others).


Main differences between ischaemic and haemorrhagic stroke

What differentiates them is the cause of the sudden change in blood flow to the brain.


Ischaemic stroke

This is one of the most common. In this case, the artery becomes clogged, preventing blood from flowing through. How? Because a clot obstructs and abruptly decreases the blood flow in a vein or cerebral artery. This causes the blood not to reach a part of the brain and the tissue is severely damaged.

According to Medline Plus, ischemic stroke can occur for two reasons Ischaemic stroke can occur for two reasons:


  • Thrombotic: formation of a clot in an artery that is already very narrow. 
  • Embolic: detachment of a clot from elsewhere in the blood vessels of the brain, or elsewhere in the body, that travels to the brain. 


Haemorrhagic stroke

It is one of the most lethal, yet one in six people who have a stroke is a haemorrhagic stroke. 

In this case, a small artery or arteriole ruptures causing a haemorrhage. That is, when a cerebral vessel ruptures, blood rushes into the brain, causing the brain tissue to become compressed and damaged. 

That's why you have to be very careful to treat each type in the right way. For example, you cannot give vasodilators to someone who has had a haemorrhagic.

There are two types of haemorrhagic stroke. Bupa Salud explains them as follows:


  • Intracerebral haemorrhage: This is caused by bleeding in the brain.
  • Subarachnoid haemorrhage:. The haemorrhage occurs on the surface of the brain, i.e. in the subarachnoid space, which consists of two membranes covering the brain.



It is important to know the main differences between ischaemic and haemorrhagic stroke, so that you can treat them in a timely manner. When in doubt, it is best to seek medical attention as soon as possible. On the other hand, correctly diagnosing the type of stroke is key to proper treatment. 

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