Stroke

Cerebrovascular disease; CVA; Cerebral infarction; Cerebral hemorrhage; Ischemic stroke; Stroke - ischemic; Cerebrovascular accident; Stroke - hemorrhagic; Carotid artery - stroke

A stroke occurs when blood flow to a part of the brain stops. A stroke is sometimes called a "brain attack."

If blood flow is cut off for longer than a few seconds, the brain cannot get nutrients and oxygen. Brain cells can die, causing lasting damage.

Brain

The major areas of the brain have one or more specific functions.

Carotid stenosis, X-ray of the left artery

A carotid arteriogram is an X-ray study designed to determine if there is narrowing or other abnormality in the carotid artery, a main artery to the brain. This is an angiogram of the left common carotid artery (both front-to-back and side views) showing a severe narrowing (stenosis) of the internal carotid artery just beyond the division of the common carotid artery into the internal and external branches.

Carotid stenosis, X-ray of the right artery

This is an angiogram of the right carotid artery showing a severe narrowing (stenosis) of the internal carotid artery just past the carotid fork. There is enlargement of the vein or ulceration in the area after the stenosis in this close-up film. Note the narrowed segment toward the bottom of the picture.

Stroke

A stroke involves loss of brain functions caused by a loss of blood circulation to areas of the brain. The blockage usually occurs when a clot or piece of atherosclerotic plaque breaks away from another area of the body and lodges within the vasculature of the brain.

Brainstem function

A stroke affecting the brain stem is potentially life threatening since this area of the brain controls functions such as breathing and instructing the heart to beat. Brain stem stroke may also cause double vision, nausea and loss of coordination. The brain stem also controls less essential abilities such as articulate speech.

Cerebellum - function

The cerebellum processes input from other areas of the brain, spinal cord and sensory receptors to provide precise timing for coordinated, smooth movements of the skeletal muscular system. A stroke affecting the cerebellum may cause dizziness, nausea, balance and coordination problems.

Circle of Willis

The Circle of Willis is the joining area of several arteries at the bottom (inferior) side of the brain. At the Circle of Willis, the internal carotid arteries branch into smaller arteries that supply oxygenated blood to over 80% of the cerebrum.

Left cerebral hemisphere - function

The left cerebral hemisphere controls movement of the right side of the body. Depending on the severity, a stroke affecting the left cerebral hemisphere may result in functional loss or motor skill impairment of the right side of the body, and may also cause loss of speech.

Right cerebral hemisphere - function

The right cerebral hemisphere controls movement of the left side of the body. Depending on the severity, a stroke affecting the right cerebral hemisphere may result in functional loss or motor skill impairment of the left side of the body. In addition, there may be impairment of the normal attention to the left side of the body and its surroundings.

Endarterectomy

Endarterectomy is a surgical procedure removing plaque material from the lining of an artery.

Plaque buildup in arteries

A heart attack or stroke may occur when an area of plaque (atherosclerosis) ruptures and a clot forms over the location, blocking the flow of blood to the organ's tissues.

Stroke - Series

Much of the brain is supplied blood by the internal carotid arteries.

Carotid dissection

Stroke is defined as a loss of brain function due to blocked blood circulation to the brain. Strokes may be caused by a narrowing, obstruction, or leak in the lining of the carotid. This leaking of blood into the artery wall (dissection) may cause a clot to form, reducing blood flow and raising the risk of a stroke. The leak may arise from an injury to the neck, which means stroke secondary to carotid dissection may occur in young people as well as older people.

Causes

Symptoms

Exams and Tests

Treatment

Support Groups

Outlook (Prognosis)

When to Contact a Medical Professional

Prevention