Embolic Stroke

by Sharon Hopkins

An embolic stroke is a type of ischemic stroke which occurs when there is a blockage in the blood vessel that supplies blood to the brain. This can happen on account of a blood clot that develops in a constricted artery, in which case it is referred to as a thrombotic stroke. It may also happen when a clot in another part of the brain or another area of the body breaks off and moves into the brain. This occurrence is known as an embolic stroke or cerebral embolism.

In an embolic stroke, the clot may develop in the largest artery of the body called the aorta. The clots may move to one of the arteries in the brain. They may also create obstructions in the larger arteries and trigger more severe strokes.

The symptoms associated with an embolic stroke include the following:

  • Numbness or weakness especially on one side of the body
  • Dizziness
  • A confused manner of speech or difficulty in understanding people
  • Problems in vision
  • Severe headache

Treatment for stroke may begin with medication that helps to dissolve blood clots and restore blood supply to the brain. Medications to prevent more clots from forming may also be administered. In some cases, doctor recommends surgery to extract the blood clots and prevent the occurrence of future strokes.

In some cases, the stroke may be mild and the symptoms may last for a short period of time. However in severe strokes, there may be lasting damage due to complications:

  • Paralysis
  • Loss of sensation, usually on one side of the body
  • Speech and communication problems
  • Double vision or even partial blindness
  • Loss of control over bladder and bowel movements
  • Anxiety or depression

Individuals who are unable to move on account of paralysis may also suffer from other complications such as bedsores, blood clots in the leg, lung infections and changes in the position of the limbs due to muscle tightness.

Rehabilitation after a stroke involves relearning certain skills or learning different ways of performing tasks to adjust to the damage caused by the stroke. Doctors and experts in different fields such as physiotherapists, speech therapists, eye specialists and psychologists will work together to construct a recovery plan. The time taken for recovery may vary from patient to patient and is also influenced by the severity of the stroke. It is possible for an individual to make considerable recovery during the initial weeks and months after the stroke.


  1. http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/000726.htm

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