Ischemic stroke is the most common form of stroke, accounting for around 87% of strokes. This type of stroke is caused by blockages or narrowing of the arteries that provide blood to the brain, resulting in ischemia - severely reduced blood flow.
These blockages are often caused by blood clots, which can form either in the arteries connecting to the brain, or in other blood vessels before being swept through the bloodstream and into narrower arteries within the brain. Clots can be caused by fatty deposits within the arteries called plaque.
Stroke is the 5th leading cause of death in the US, with one person dying every 4 minutes as a result. For African Americans, stroke is the 3rd leading cause of death.
In the US, approximately 40% of stroke deaths are in males, with 60% in females. According to the American Heart Association (AHA), compared to Caucasians, African Americans have nearly twice the risk of a first-ever stroke and a much higher death rate from stroke.
Stroke is also more likely to affect people if they are overweight, aged 55 or older, have a personal or family history of stroke, are not physically active, drink heavily, smoke or use illicit drugs.