Medical Terminology Related to Strokes

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  • 0:02 Warning Signs
  • 0:32 Transient Ischemic Attack
  • 1:39 Stroke
  • 4:02 Signs and Symptoms of Stroke
  • 4:27 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Artem Cheprasov

Artem has a doctor of veterinary medicine degree.

This lesson will go over some terminology related to stroke: transient ischemic attack, cerebrovascular accident, ischemic stroke, hemorrhagic stroke, aphasia, and aneurysm.

Warning Signs

You know how you sometimes get a warning sign that there may be a big problem ahead? Like one time, I was driving through a mountain pass, and a temporary sign put up on the side of the road literally read 'incident ahead.'

Well, when it comes to your body, it gives off 'incident ahead' signs left and right quite a bit of the time when something serious may happen in the future. One of these warning signs pertains to a stroke. So, we'll talk about terminology related to strokes in this lesson.

Transient Ischemic Attack

So, what is the 'incident ahead' sign that may point to a stroke? It's called a transient ischemic attack (TIA), a temporary blockage of the blood supply to the brain. Think of it as a mini-stroke. It's called a transient ischemic attack because it is transient, meaning it lasts for a very short time, usually just a few minutes, and most signs and symptoms stop within an hour after its onset.

And because it causes an ischemic event, where ischemic means the inadequate supply of blood to a tissue or organ due to obstructed or constricted vasculature, resulting in an inadequate supply of oxygen.

Like trucks on a highway carry goods to a destination, red blood cells in blood vessels carry oxygen to the brain. The brain needs oxygen to function. If the highway entering the brain is jammed by a blockage, then the oxygen cannot be delivered properly, leading to dizziness, weakness, numbness, slurred speech, blurred vision or blindness, and a loss of balance.


So, again, a TIA is an 'incident ahead' sign for a stroke. A stroke is more technically called a cerebrovascular accident (CVA), where cerebro- refers to the brain and vascular implies the blood vessels are involved.

Another way to define a stroke is as follows. A stroke is a sudden alteration in and loss of brain function stemming from injured or killed brain cells due to a blockage or rupture of a blood vessel supplying the brain. This means there are two major types of stroke because the blood vessels can either be blocked, like an accident can block a highway, or it can rupture, the highway is completely destroyed. As such, we term these types of stroke as ischemic stroke or hemorrhagic stroke, respectively.

The most common type of stroke is ischemic stroke, a type of stroke that occurs when blood flow to the brain is blocked. Again, ischemic comes from the word ischemia defined before. Such a stroke usually occurs when a thrombus or embolus blocks a brain artery. A thrombus is a blood clot; in this case, one that has formed in an artery that supplies the brain with blood. An embolus is a piece of debris, usually a small, broken off piece of a thrombus that has traveled to the brain from another part of the body, like the heart.

The other kind of stroke is known as hemorrhagic stroke, a type of stroke that occurs when a blood vessel in the brain leaks or ruptures. Hemorrhagic is a term that comes from hemo-, as in hemoglobin, which means blood, and -rrhage, which means an excessive flow of something. Think of our suffix -rrhage and rage, where rage is an excessive flow of emotion.

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