Ischemic and Hemorrhagic Strokes

Strokes are a leading cause of death in the United States as well as a leading cause of long-term disability. The majority of strokes (87%) are ischemic strokes.  An ischemic stroke occurs when blood flow through the artery that supplies blood to the brain becomes blocked (often by a blood clot).  A hemorrhagic stroke occurs when an artery in the brain leaks or ruptures.  The leaked blood puts pressure on brain cells, causing damage that may be irreversible.


Signs of stroke include the following:

  • Sudden numbness or weakness in the face, arm or leg (particularly on one side of the body)
  • Sudden confusion, difficulty speaking or understanding
  • Sudden vision trouble
  • Sudden trouble walking, loss of balance, lack of coordination or dizziness
  • Sudden severe headache with no underlying cause

Risk Factors

There are numerous risk factors for stroke, including:

  • High blood pressure
  • Heart disease
  • Abnormal heart rhythms
  • Cardiac structural abnormalities
  • Diabetes
  • History of transient ischemic attacks (often referred to as “mini-strokes”)
  • High red blood cell count
  • Lack of exercise
  • Obesity
  • Smoking
  • Excessive alcohol use
  • Use of illegal drugs
  • COVID-19 infection

Age, genetics, gender, race, and location may also play roles in who will have a stroke.  Having a stroke also increases your risk of having a subsequent stroke.  In fact, nearly 1 in 4 people who have strokes have had a previous one.

Another risk factor is stress, including work place stress.  Stress can cause inflammation and makes the heart work harder, blood pressure rise, and levels of sugar and fat in the bloodstream climb.  These factors can increase the likelihood that a blood clot could form and trigger a stroke.   Stress can also trigger many risk factors that can be associated with high risk for stroke, including eating poorly, smoking, alcohol abuse, and less time for exercise.


Complications of stroke include:

  • Loss of muscle movement or paralysis (usually on one side of the body)
  • Difficulty talking or swallowing
  • Memory loss or thinking difficulties
  • Emotional changes
  • Pain, numbness or other unusual sensations
  • Changes in behavior
  • Changes in ability to self-care

Claims based on stroke, or even the need to limit work because of being at an elevated risk for stroke, can be nuanced, especially if a stroke isn’t completely debilitating and/or it is hard to objectively verify the extent of the ongoing limitations.  If you’ve had a stroke and your insurer is challenging your disability claim and pushing you to return to work, please feel free to contact one of our attorneys directly.

These posts are for informative purposes only and should not be used as a substitute for consultation with and diagnosis by a medical professional. If you are experiencing any of the symptoms described above and have yet to consult with a doctor, do not use this resource to self-diagnose. Please contact your doctor immediately and schedule an appointment to be evaluated for your symptoms


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