What causes a stroke: the causes of ischemic and hemorrhagic

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From this article you will learn: what are the causes of stroke, what factors increase the risk of developing this serious disease.

Causes of atherothrombotic ischemic stroke

  • Causes of embolic ischemic stroke
  • Causes of hemorrhagic stroke
  • All strokes are divided into ischemic ones that develop due to lack of blood supply to brain tissue and hemorrhagic ones that occur when the integrity of the vascular wall is violated.

    Ischemic stroke can be caused by narrowing of the cerebral arteries due to atherosclerosis and their overlapping with a thrombus or embolus that has got into the vessels of the brain with blood flow.

    Hemorrhagic stroke develops when the vascular wall ruptures due to high blood pressure, the presence of an aneurysm or arteriovenous malformation.

    Neurologists and neurosurgeons are engaged in diagnosis and treatment of diseases.

    Causes of atherothrombotic ischemic stroke

    Although there are many reasons why stroke is ischemic, most of all cases of this disease are caused by cerebral atherosclerosis.

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    Atherosclerosis is a disease in which fatty deposits, called atherosclerotic plaques or atheromas accumulate in the internal walls of arteries. Arteries are blood vessels carrying oxygen-rich blood to various organs, including the brain.

    Atheromas can cause narrowing and condensation of the arteries, limiting the supply of the brain with blood and oxygen, and also increasing the risk of blood clots in the vessels that can potentially completely block the blood flow.

    The exact cause of atherosclerosis is unknown. However, scientific evidence suggests that this is a slow and complex disease that begins in childhood.

    The development of atherosclerosis begins when certain factors damage the inner layer of the vascular wall in the arteries. After this, fats, cholesterol, platelets and calcium begin to accumulate at the site of damage inside the vascular wall. These substances stimulate the arterial wall cells to form connective tissue and dividing. So gradually formed atherosclerotic plaque, narrowing the lumen of the artery and worsening the blood flow along it.

    To factors damaging the vessel wall, belong:

    • smoking - damages and causes spasm of blood vessels, increases cholesterol and blood pressure;
    • high levels of certain fats and cholesterol in the blood;
    • high blood pressure;
    • high blood glucose levels associated with reduced sensitivity to insulin or diabetes mellitus.
    The main risk factors for damage to the vessel wall

    Other risk factors for the development of ischemic stroke belong to:

    • Overweight or obesity.
    • Lack of physical activity.
    • Incorrect food, which includes a large number of saturated fats, cholesterol, salt and sugar.
    • Elderly - men at risk of atherosclerosis increase after 45 years, in women - after 55 years.
    • Presence of ischemic strokes in close relatives.
    • Sleep apnea syndrome is a disease in which a patient experiences short-term breathing stops during sleep. This syndrome increases the risk of hypertension, diabetes, heart attack and stroke.
    • Stress.
    • Abuse of alcoholic beverages.

    Over time, the atherosclerotic plaque formed at the site of damage to the vascular wall increases and narrows the lumen of the vessel. In the end, its surface may explode. When this happens, thrombocytes forming a thrombus join the atheroma rupture site, which further covers the artery lumen. This limits or stops the delivery of oxygen-rich blood to the brain tissues and causes ischemic stroke.

    Causes of embolic ischemic stroke

    Sometimes ischemic stroke is caused by overlapping the lumen with an embolus - a blood clot that gets into the cerebral blood flow from another place. The most common sources of emboli are the heart or carotid arteries.

    Embolic ischemic stroke

    Carotid artery disease is a significant cause of ischemic strokes, which account for about 20% of cases of acute cerebrovascular accidents. There are three main mechanisms of the development of the disease in the pathology of carotid arteries:

    1. Atherosclerotic plaque increases in size and completely blocks the lumen of the carotid artery.
    2. A thrombus is formed at the site of the atherosclerotic plaque rupture, which cuts the blood flow through the carotid artery.
    3. From the formed at the site of the rupture of an atherosclerotic plaque, a thrombus can detach a particle that enters the arteries of the brain and blocks them.

    Cardiogenic cerebral embolism accounts for approximately 20% of all ischemic stroke states. To its development lead more than 20 different heart diseases. Typically, doctors share these diseases on the basis of the risk of a stroke in two groups - high and low risk.

    The causes of an ischemic stroke of a high-risk group include the following:

    • Atrial fibrillation is the leading cause of cardioembolic strokes, especially in elderly patients. This is the most common form of cardiac arrhythmia, in which chaotic electrical signals cause irregular and very rapid atrial fibrillation. The ventricles of the heart contract much more slowly. Because of this violation of the coordination of the contractions of the chambers of the heart, the blood stagnates in the atrial cavity. Stasis of blood is one of the main causes of blood clots. In the atrium cavity, there are quite a few "pockets" in which a lot of blood clots are formed. These thrombi can at any time tear themselves away from the walls of the heart and with blood flow to any organ, including the brain. Depending on its size, the thrombus sticks in the artery of large or small diameter and blocks its lumen, stopping the blood flow. If this artery supplies blood to the brain, an ischemic stroke develops. It is believed that atrial fibrillation increases the risk of its occurrence by 5 times. During the year, the disease develops in 0.5-12% of patients with atrial fibrillation, this indicator depends on the presence of other risk factors, such as heart failure, hypertension, advanced age, diabetes mellitus, a previous stroke or transient ischemic attack.
    • Mitral stenosis is the narrowing of the lumen of the mitral valve of the heart, which divides the left atrium and the ventricle. Because of this narrowing, the flow of blood from the left atrium into the left ventricle is violated, which leads to the formation of blood clots in the heart cavity. The main cause of mitral stenosis is rheumatism - a disease associated with streptococcal infection. Sometimes the mitral valve narrows due to calcium deposits on its valves.
    • Syndrome of weakness of the sinus node is a disease that develops when a sinus node is violated - the main pacemaker, whose impulses normally make the heart contract correctly. In this syndrome, various disorders of the heart rhythm develop, leading to the formation of blood clots in the heart cavity. The risk of developing ischemic stroke in patients with this disease is 5-10%.
    • Artificial heart valves are mechanical devices that replace your own heart valves in their diseases. Thrombi can form on the surface of artificial valves, so people with them have a 2-4% risk of developing ischemic stroke.
    • Infective endocarditis is an inflammation of the inner shell of the heart( endocardium) caused by bacteria or other microorganisms. On the inflamed endocardium, vegetation is very well formed - warty formations, consisting of bacteria and fragments of blood cells. From these vegetations, a particle can be detached, which is brought into the cerebral arteries by a current of blood, causing an ischemic stroke. According to statistical data, it develops in 20% of patients with infective endocarditis.
    • Non-bacterial thrombotic endocarditis is inflammation of the endocardium of non-infectious origin. Most often this form of endocarditis develops with chronic kidney diseases, systemic lupus erythematosus, and oncological diseases.
    • Atrial myxoma is the most frequent tumor of the heart. In the presence of myxoma in the atrial cavity, thrombi can be formed, which, detached from the walls of the heart, are transferred to the arteries of the brain and cause a stroke.
    • Acute myocardial infarction is the death of a part of the heart muscle cells, associated with a sharp deterioration in their blood supply. Inflammation of the endocardium develops over the site of the infarction, and an aneurysm can develop - a saccule protrusion of the heart wall. In the aneurysmal cavity, thrombi are often formed, causing subsequently ischemic stroke, whose frequency in the first 3 months after myocardial infarction is 2%.

    The open oval aperture, an atrial septal aneurysm, mitral valve prolapse, calcification of the mitral and aortic valves belongs to the group of low risk.

    Causes of hemorrhagic stroke

    Hemorrhagic stroke is a bleeding in the brain tissue. The most common cause of this disease is hypertension. Over time, high blood pressure weakens the walls of blood vessels, which increases the risk of rupture. If the integrity of the wall of the cerebral vessel is disturbed, the blood enters the brain tissue and develops a hemorrhagic stroke.

    Other causes of stroke for hemorrhagic type:

    1. An aneurysm of the cerebral artery is a saccule protrusion of the vascular wall. In the areas of an aneurysm, the wall of the artery is weak, it can break at any time and cause a hemorrhagic stroke.
    2. Arteriovenous malformations are a bundle of abnormal blood vessels that connect arteries and veins of the brain. Vessels of arteriovenous malformation can burst and cause a hemorrhage to the brain.
    3. Diseases of the blood system that promote increased bleeding( eg, hemophilia).
    4. Liver diseases in which blood clotting is impaired.
    5. Malignant neoplasms of the brain - sometimes hemorrhages develop in places affected by the oncological process.
    6. Amyloidosis - in the elderly, the deposition of pathological amyloid protein in the vascular walls can make the arteries weak and cause their rupture, leading to a hemorrhagic stroke.
    7. Drug addiction - cocaine and other drugs can weaken blood vessels and lead to hemorrhage in the brain.
    8. Use of drugs that impair blood clotting( warfarin, heparin, enoxaparin, streptokinase, alteplase, etc.).

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