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What causes stroke
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What causes strokes

Bleeding strokes are not so common and make up for around 15% of all strokes. 

Stroke is thus mostly the result of a clot that blocks an artery in the brain.

If you want to avoid having a stroke you are probably asking yourself, how is this clot formed and what can I do to prevent it. In very simplified terms, blood clots are in most cases caused by one of two things: Sick arteries and Blood that clots more than normal.

Sick arteries

You may have heard of the term Atherosclerosis. If not, don’t worry its doctor talk for sick artery disease.

Think of your arteries as a garden hose.

The tap is your heart that pumps the fluid into the hose (your arteries). The only difference between your arteries and the garden hose is that the fluid (blood) does not leave the system. It stays in circulation and delivers oxygen and nutrients to where it is needed.

Now imagine what will happen to this hose of yours if it is closed at the end and the pressure coming from the tap is increased. As the fluid cannot escape the pressure will start increasing. Now in the short term, the hose is hopefully elastic enough to handle the increased pressure, but if this carries on for a longer period of time, the hose may start cracking. Especially if the pressurized hose is left in the sun it will eventually become hard and inelastic. 

 

Your arterial system is exactly the same.

If the pressure on the arteries is increased for some reason (like when your sports team scores a goal for example) your arteries can handle it as they are elastic. But if this increased pressure is maintained over a long period of years and years, the constant stress could result in little cracks forming in your artery walls.

Luckily your body has something that is designed to fix these cracks. This “something” is called cholesterol. We need cholesterol as it fixes cell walls and damage caused by high blood pressure as in the example above.

The problem is that if the pressure problem persists or if you have too much cholesterol, the small lesion could now accumulate more cholesterol. Other substances could also now join and as a result, the artery wall could get thicker and less elastic. So much so that if this persists the artery could become completely blocked. What also sometimes happens is that this plaque that is formed in the artery wall could become unstable and break loose, which could drift downstream and block an artery somewhere in your brain. 

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