What is a Mild Stroke?

Instructor: Artem Cheprasov
Did you know there's more than one kind of severity of stroke? Stroke can be classified in one of four severities, and this lesson focuses on describing the least severe of the four.

A Mild Stroke

Whenever we think of a stroke, we tend to think of one stereotypical condition. That is to say, one that involves slurring of the speech, an inability to move certain facial muscles, and weakness in the arm. However, strokes actually come in different severities.

Some forms of stroke are so massive in scope, they can cause a person's death. But there a less severe forms of stroke. They include a mild (minor) stroke, a moderate stroke, and a moderate/severe stroke. This lesson's focus is on describing a mild (minor) stroke.

What Is a Stroke?

A stroke, regardless of severity, is a condition that occurs as a result of an inadequate supply of oxygenated blood to the brain. The brain needs massive amounts of oxygen to do its job and control your body. If an artery supplying oxygenated blood to the brain bursts open or is plugged up, it can no longer deliver oxygen to a local section of brain tissue. This causes that section of brain tissue to die. Since it dies, it cannot control whatever it was controlling before. This leads to neurological dysfunctions, such as:

  • Paralysis of one side of the face
  • An inability to raise an arm or keep it raised for long
  • Slurred speech
  • Problems with vision

Those signs are simply the outward manifestations of neurological dysfunctions stemming from a stroke. Just like if a section of your computer became 'fried' and it starts doing all sorts of inappropriate things, the same thing happens to our body when a section of the brain is damaged.

In this image, you can see how a section of brain tissue has been deprived of oxygen and, thus, damaged during a stroke.

Characteristics of a Mild Stroke

So, how do we categorize a mild (minor) stroke? A minor stroke is categorized by the National Institutes of Health Stroke Scale as having a total score of less than 5 (1-4 to be precise). That total score is derived from the sum of individual scores. An individual score is applied to a unique part of a doctor's analysis of a potential stroke victim. Once the doctor assesses each function and scores each function, he or she adds up all the scores to get a total score and thus a description of the kind of stroke a person has had.

Generally speaking, a minor stroke can have the same signs and symptoms as a more serious form of stroke like a moderate or severe one, but the signs and symptoms are simply mild. Let's compare and contrast some of the signs and symptoms of a minor stroke vs. a severe stroke so you can see the difference.

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