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Stroke Headache

What is a stroke

A stroke, also medically known as a cerebrovascular accident (CVA), can be described as the cut-off of oxygen and other nutrients to a part of the brain resulting from interruption of blood flow. This can be based on a clogged artery (embolic stroke) or a rupture of a blood vessel causing  leakage of blood or hemorrhage (hemorrhagic stroke). The arteries are often blocked by debris from the carotid arteries or heart or by the ultimate progression of atherosclerosis.

Embolic stroke

Embolic stroke usually occurs when a blood clot breaks off within any part of the body and then travels to the tiny arteries supplying blood to the brain.  If the blockage is originating in the lining of the arteries in the brain and neck caused by fatty deposits then it is known as a thrombotic stroke.

Hemorrhagic stroke

Hemorrhagic stroke often occurs when the arteries are not able to withstand the pressure exerted by the circulating blood.  This will give rise to two common types of pressure conditions:

  1. An aneurysm which is not able to tolerate normal blood pressure
  2. Sever hypertension or high blood pressure that, over time, may cause the walls of the blood vessels to weaken and burst.

All strokes can cause headache with the highest incidence of stroke-induced headaches occurring among those suffering from hemorrhagic stroke.  In the non-hemorrhagic stroke, headache is fairly common although usually mild. As with migraine, besides the headache symptoms, stroke frequently causes other similar migraine symptoms such as visual changes, vomiting, weakness and numbness in the legs and arms and thus can lead to a faulty diagnosis.