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Stroke is the third leading cause of death in Europe, the USA, Canada and Japan, and is the primary cause of adult disability in these countries. Over 80% are ischaemic (cardiogenic, atherosclerotic, lacunar, haemodynamic and cryptogenic). The remainder are haemorrhagic (largely parenchymal and subarachnoid) and are considered in a separate article. Some pathologies may cause infarction and haemorrhage, for example, hypertensive vascular disease, moyamoya, vasculitis, reversible vasoconstriction syndrome, arterial dissection and venous occlusive disease.
Cranial CT is the most useful initial imaging modality to differentiate between ischaemia and haemorrhage, and to exclude stroke mimics.
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A separate version of this paper which includes much more detail is available on the Practical Neurology website. To see this paper please visit the journal online (http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/practneurol-2013-000802)
Competing interests None.
Provenance and peer review Commissioned; externally peer reviewed. This paper was reviewed by Joanna Wardlaw, Edinburgh, UK.