Causes of massive stroke

A stroke is a condition where the blood flow to an area of brain is interrupted. The blockage could be because of a blood clot, ruptured artery or a blood vessel. When the brain is deprived of the vital supply of oxygen and glucose (via blood), the brain cells begin to die, subsequently leading to brain damage. The effects of a massive stroke (also called brain attacks and cerebro-vascular accidents) can be devastating and may result in body paralysis, impairment of speech, memory loss, coma or even death. There are two types of massive stroke- ischemic stroke and hemorrhagic stroke. While the former occurs when a clot develops in an artery that supplies blood to the brain, the latter is caused by bleeding inside the brain.

Causes of massive stroke-

Blockage of an artery-
The most common cause of stroke is the blockage of a brain artery by a clot (thrombosis). Generally, blood vessel inside the brain that has already narrowed is most susceptible to getting blocked by a blood clot (thrombus or embolus). The various factors that cause narrowing of the vessel include high blood pressure, higher cholesterol levels, smoking, increasing age and diabetes.

Embolic stroke-
Embolic stroke is caused when either a clot or an atherosclerotic plaque ( deposits of calcium and cholesterol on the inside wall of artery) dislodges and travels through the blood stream, to finally plug in a brain artery (such as occurs in atrial fibrillation). Subsequently, the oxygen and blood flow is hampered leading to embolic stroke.

Cerebral Hemmorhage-
Cerebral hemorrhage (bleeding in the brain tissue because of blood vessel rupture) can result in a stroke due to the loss of oxygen and blood in brain. Also, the condition further aggravates if the brain tissues get swollen (cerebral edema). The cause of most cerebral hemorrhage is hypertension. This is because of the fact that high blood pressure dangerously results in bursting of the small arteries within the brain and therefore increases pressure on the brain. 

Subarachnoid Hemmorhage-
Brain is lined by a membrane known as the arachnoid membrane. In this condition, blood from a blood vessel leackage gets accumulated beneath this membrane. Aneurysm (abnormal blood-filled ballooning of the walls of the artery) is the most common reason of subarachnoid hemorrhage. Hypertension increases the chances of aneurysm attack. Serious neurological consequences can occur if the subarachnoid hemorrhage is not treated on time.

Vasculitis is the inflammation of the blood vessels. It is a rare cause of a massive stroke.

Migraine headache-
Migraine or vascular headaches are another rare cause of massive stroke. The mechanism includes narrowing of blood vessels of the brain resulting in decreased blood and oxygen flow to the brain. This can lead to a situation similar to a stroke with paralysis of one side of the body. The symptoms are usually temporary.

Genetic heredity-
Homocystinuria is a rare condition in which levels of homocystine in the body are increased. It is an example of genetic predisposition to stroke.

Keywords- stroke, blood, oxygen, heart, artery, clot, brain


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