Ischemic Strokes (Clots)

Updated:Jul 17,2014

View a detailed animation of ischemic stroke (opens in new window)
Ischemic stroke accounts for about 87 percent of all cases. View a detailed animation of ischemic stroke.

Ischemic strokes occur as a result of an obstruction within a blood vessel supplying blood to the brain. The underlying condition for this type of obstruction is the development of fatty deposits lining the vessel walls. This condition is called atherosclerosis. These fatty deposits can cause two types of obstruction:
  •  Cerebral thrombosis refers to a thrombus (blood clot) that develops at the clogged part of the vessel.
     
  •  Cerebral embolism refers generally to a blood clot that forms at another location in the circulatory system, usually the heart and large arteries of the upper chest and neck. A portion of the blood clot breaks loose, enters the bloodstream and travels through the brain's blood vessels until it reaches vessels too small to let it pass. A second important cause of embolism is an irregular heartbeat, known as atrial fibrillation. It creates conditions where clots can form in the heart, dislodge and travel to the brain.
Silent cerebral infarction (SCI), or “silent stroke,” is a brain injury likely caused by a blood clot interrupting blood flow in the brain. It’s a risk factor for future strokes which could lead to progressive brain damage due to these strokes. Read more about silent strokes.



Stroke Warning Signs and Symptoms

TIA and Stroke: Medical Emergencies



When someone has shown symptoms of a stroke or a TIA (transient ischemic attack), they require immediate medical attention. A doctor will gather information and make a diagnosis and begin a course of treatment depending on the cause of the stroke.


This content was last reviewed on 11/7/2013.

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