The main types of stroke (in children and adults) are:
- Ischemic stroke
- Transient ischemic attack (TIA)
- Hemorrhagic stroke
Ischemic stroke is the most common type of childhood stroke. This occurs when a blood clot forms and becomes stuck in an artery to the brain. In some cases, a clot may become stuck in an artery that is injured or narrowed. Sometimes clots form somewhere else in the body, such as the heart, and travel to the brain. Clotting disorders can increase the likelihood of an ischemic stroke.
Transient ischemic attack, or TIA, occurs when blood flow to the brain is blocked only briefly − usually no more than five minutes. Sometimes called a “mini-stroke,” a TIA is:
- A medical emergency, just like a major stroke
- Usually caused by blood clots (not a hemorrhage)
- A warning sign of a future stroke. More than a third of people who have a TIA have a major stroke within one year if they don’t receive treatment.
When symptoms first appear, it is not possible to know whether they are caused by a TIA or major stroke. If it is a TIA, your child’s doctor can work to identify the cause and take steps to help prevent a major stroke from happening.
Hemorrhagic stroke is far less common in children. It occurs when a blood vessel in the brain ruptures. Blood leaks into the brain and flows into areas that it isn’t supposed to go. Pressure builds, which interferes with blood flow to the affected area of the brain. Sometimes, as the blood accumulates in brain tissues, a clot forms.