Blood Clot in the Brain

by Carol Gomes


A blood clot forms when a blood vessel is damaged. A blood clot may form in the arteries supplying blood to the specific areas of the brain. The clot blocks the passage of blood to certain portions of the brain and this causes the brain cells to die. This may result in an ischemic stroke, which is caused as a result of the blocked artery. A blood clot is a serious medical condition because it is the cause of ischemic stroke, which in turn, accounts for over 80 percent of all brain stroke cases. Another condition that develops due to blood clot in the brain is cerebral sinovenous thrombosis (CSVT).

Blood Supply to the Brain

A constant supply of blood to the brain ensures its proper functioning. This constant blood supply is maintained by the arteries that carry the blood from the heart to the brain. There are different arteries supplying blood to the brain, namely, the vertebral artery, internal carotid artery, basilar artery, ophthalmic artery, anterior cerebral artery, middle cerebral artery, and the posterior cerebral artery. Each of the arteries carries blood to specific areas of the brain of both the left and right hemispheres.

Blood Clot in the Brain

A blood clot in the brain means the blockage of any one of the above arteries, which eventually reduces the flow of blood to the required sections of the brain. In this case, the brain tissue and cells do not get the required blood supply. This results in the occurrence of an ischemic stroke. An Ischemic stroke can be of two types and is classified according to the two types of blood clots in the brain. One is an embolic stroke and another is a thrombotic stroke.

In an embolic stroke, the blood clot does not originate inside the brain. Instead, it develops in some other part of the body, most commonly in the heart and large arteries that leads to the brain. When this blood clot moves through the blood vessels to the brain, it causes a stroke. An embolic stroke may occur as a result of heart surgery. It usually occurs suddenly and does not have many warning signs.

In a thrombotic stroke, the blood clot in the brain develops in the arteries of the brain and does not travel from any other location. This type of stroke is more common among the elderly and in people who have high levels of cholesterol in their blood. Patients suffering from atherosclerosis may also develop a blood clot in the brain, resulting in a thrombotic stroke. Atherosclerosis is the condition in which lipids and fats develop in the inside walls of the blood vessels.

Some of the stroke symptoms that may be an indication of presence of a blood clot in the brain are as follows:

  • Trouble in speaking.
  • Confusion and a sudden lack of mental clarity.
  • A feeling of sudden weakness in specific parts such as the arms, legs or face. This may also affect one entire side of the body.
  • Loss of coordination.
  • Sudden headache and dizziness.
  • Trouble in seeing. Blurred vision and partial blindness may occur.

There may be different reasons for the occurrence of a blood clot in the brain. One is genetic– the condition is called inherited thrombosis. Another reason is the deficiency of Protein S which acts as an anticoagulant. Vitamin K is necessary for the production of Protein S and so a Vitamin K deficiency increases the chances of a blood clot. Some of the blood clot brain risk factors are as follows:

  • Obesity
  • Dehydration
  • Birth control pills
  • Any major illness like cancer, a blood infection or any inflammatory disease
  • Smoking

References

  1. http://medicalcenter.osu.edu/patientcare/healthcare services/stroke/types/Pages/index.aspx
  2. http://www.urmc.rochester.edu/smd/Rad/stroke.htm
  3. http://www.cedars-sinai.edu/Patients/Programs-and-Services/Stroke-Program/Stroke-Resources/Acute-Ischemic-Stroke.aspx
  4. http://www.ucdenver.edu/academics/colleges/medicalschool/centers/HemophiliaThrombosis/resources/Documents/BLOOD_CLOTS.pdf

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