What Are The Main Causes Of A Stroke?

The type of stroke incurred is in direct correlation to its cause. Meaning, that the main causes of a stroke are different depending on the type of stroke that occurs. Down below, we’re going to be breaking down the two most common types of strokes, the ischemic stroke and the hemorrhagic stroke for this purpose.

Some distinction is required. Because they can affect the brain in different ways and are caused by completely different conditions. So, continue reading if you want to learn more.

Ischemic Strokes

Ischemic Strokes are the first type up for discussion, these are the most common, caused by occlusions in the arteries that can stop blood and oxygen from flowing to your brain. The most common cause of an ischemic stroke is atherosclerosis. As for what causes atherosclerosis, it’s a little less clear cut. Of the known causes, there are:

  • Heavy Smoking or Drinking
  • Hypertension
  • High Cholesterol Levels
  • Obesity
  • Diabetes

Another known cause of an ischemic stroke is called atrial fibrillation. Much like atherosclerosis, this condition cuts off the flow of blood and oxygen to your brain. However, it’s specifically caused by blood clots that form in the heart and move to other parts of the body (i.e. the brain.)

In either case, it’s the lack of oxygen in the brain, which causes the death of brain cells, that leads to a stroke. Keeping track of your health might prevent the first cause and medication (which prevent blood clots) might prevent the second, but both are conditions that are marked by age and thus cannot be cured completely.

Hemorrhagic Strokes

Around 20% of strokes are hemorrhagic strokes, making them less common than the previous, but no less serious. These are most commonly caused by hypertension (high blood pressure.) In this case, the pressure is so powerful that it weakens the blood vessel and causes blood to bleed into and around the brain, causing cell and tissue damage.

Hemorrhagic strokes can also be caused by brain aneurysms (which causes blood vessels in the brain to rupture) or abnormally formed blood vessels in the brain. In all these cases, the stroke occurs as a result of weakened or damaged blood vessels compressing the brain and causing tissue damage.

Final Thoughts

Strokes are one of the leading causes of death in the whole world, and a lot of it can be attributed to unhealthy living. Conditions like atherosclerosis or hypertension can be boiled down to poor lifestyle choices — be it on your diet, your levels of physical activity, your smoking habits, etc. In any case, it’s important to stay aware of these things, especially if you are looking forward to a long and happy life.


  1. Harvard Health Publishing. “Hemorrhagic Stroke.” Harvard Health, www.health.harvard.edu/a_to_z/hemorrhagic-stroke-a-to-z
  2. NHS Choices, NHS, www.nhs.uk/conditions/stroke/causes/.