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Stroke

Stroke: Glossary

Tuesday, April 24, 2012 - 16:46

Contributing Author: Guy Slowik FRCS

Here are definitions of medical terms related to stroke.

Aneurysm: An abnormal, balloon-like bulging of the wall of an artery. The bursting of an aneurysm in a brain artery or blood vessel causes a hemorrhagic stroke.

Anticoagulant agents: Drugs used to prevent blood clots from forming or growing. They work by interfering with the production of blood components that are necessary for clot formation.

Antiplatelet agents: Drugs used to prevent blood clots from forming or growing. Antiplatelet agents slow production of an enzyme that causes platelets to stick together.

Aphasia: A term for communication problems that may include the loss or reduction of the ability to speak, read, write, or understand. Aphasia is caused by damage to the parts of the brain that control language.

Artery: A blood vessel that carries blood away from the heart and around the body.

Atherosclerosis: A buildup of cholesterol plaque and other fatty deposits in the arteries. It can put people at higher risk for stroke, because clots can become stuck in narrowed arteries within the brain, cutting off blood flow.

Atrial fibrillation: A condition in which the heartbeat is often irregular and unusually rapid. It can put people at higher risk for stroke, because the condition causes blood clots to form, and these clots can travel to the brain and block a blood vessel.

Cardiovascular disease: Any abnormal condition caused by problems with the heart and blood vessels.

Carotid artery: The arteries on each side of the neck that carry blood from the heart to the brain.

Carotid endarterectomy: The surgical removal of plaque that is blocking or reducing blood flow in a carotid artery.

Cerebral infarction: A stroke caused by interruption or blockage of blood flow to the brain; also called ischemic stroke.

Cerebrovascular disease: The term used to describe all abnormalities of the brain caused by problems with its blood vessels. Stroke is the major, but not the only, form of cerebrovascular disease.

Dysarthria: Slurred speech caused by damage to the parts of the brain that control the muscles used in speech production.

Dysphagia: An inability to swallow and/or difficulty in swallowing.

Hemiplegia: Paralysis on one side of the body.

Intracerebral hemorrhage: A stroke caused by a ruptured blood vessel that causes bleeding in brain tissue.

Ischemic stroke: A stroke caused by interruption or blockage of blood flow to the brain; also called cerebral infarction.

Plaque: Fatty deposits that stick to the inside walls of blood vessels, causing the vessel to become narrow and, in some cases, blocked altogether.

Platelets: Tiny blood cells that stick together to stop the flow of blood around a wound to a blood vessel.

Spasticity: Abnormal tightness or stiffness in a muscle.

Stroke: A type of cerebrovascular disease that is caused by a sudden interruption of blood flow to a part of the brain, which can kill or damage brain cells. A brain attack.

Subarachnoid hemorrhage: A stroke caused by a ruptured blood vessel that bleeds into the subarachnoid space between the brain and the skull. This space between the web-like arachnoid membrane and the surface of the brain is filled with cerebrospinal fluid. It acts as a cushion to protect the brain from blows.

Thrombolytic agents: Drugs that break up or dissolve clots that can cause a stroke or heart attack.

Tissue plasminogen activators (TPAs): The only FDA-approved treatment for stroke.

Transient ischemic attack (TIA): A temporary interruption of the blood supply to an area of the brain; sometimes called a "mini-stroke," it usually lasts only a few minutes and causes no permanent damage or disability.

Stroke