What is a stroke?
A stroke occurs when the blood supply to any part of the brain is cut off or blocked. Blood traveling from the heart to the brain carries oxygen, and without oxygen the cells of the brain cannot survive and will die. Unfortunately, this means that the area of the brain that is affected will be prevented from working as before.
There are two main types of stroke:
Most people who have a stroke will have an ischaemic stroke (85%). 20 It occurs when a blood clot blocks the blood supply to the brain. Atrial fibrillation causes around 1 in 5 of all ischaemic strokes.
Haemorrhagic strokes (15%) 20 happen when one of the blood vessels in the brain starts to leak blood into the brain (haemorrhage).
Stroke is considered a medical emergency that can have serious consequences for both the person who has the stroke, and their family and friends. Every year stroke causes 5.7 million deaths worldwide (nearly 1 in 10 of all deaths) 21, and 5 million people who survive stroke are left disabled. 22
People who have an AF-related stroke tend to have worse outcomes such as more severe disability or higher likelihood of dying. 23–25 Atrial fibrillation is also associated with what are known as ‘silent strokes’. These are tiny strokes that do not produce any major symptoms, but gradually deteriorate the brain instead. 26
There are two types of stroke