Ischemic Stroke

What is Ischemic Stroke

Ischemic stroke is the sudden death of brain tissue. Blood carries oxygen to all areas of the body. This type of stroke happens when your blood does not flow to your brain like normal. Your brain cannot get the oxygen it needs. This is an emergency. It must be treated right away.

Symptoms of a stroke usually happen all of a sudden. You may notice them when you wake up. They can include:

  • Weakness or loss of feeling in your face, arm, or leg. This often happens on one side of the body.
  • Trouble walking.
  • Trouble moving your arms or legs.
  • Loss of balance or coordination.
  • Feeling confused.
  • Trouble talking or understanding what people are saying.
  • Slurred speech.
  • Trouble seeing.
  • Seeing two of one object (double vision).
  • Feeling dizzy.
  • Feeling sick to your stomach (nauseous) and throwing up (vomiting).
  • A very bad headache for no reason.

4 Interesting Facts of Ischemic Stroke

  1. Results from obstruction of a blood vessel that supplies blood to the brain
  2. Similar features include numbness, vision impairment, and gait difficulties
  3. Differentiating features include sudden onset of symptoms that can originate from a single neurologic lesion rather than from multiple lesions
  4. Diagnosed by abnormal findings on diffusion-weighted MRI

Get help as soon as any of these problems start. This is important. Some treatments work better if they are given right away. These include:

  • Aspirin.
  • Medicines to control blood pressure.
  • A shot (injection) of medicine to break up the blood clot.
  • Treatments given in the blood vessel (artery) to take out the clot or break it up.

Other treatments may include:

  • Oxygen.
  • Fluids given through an IV tube.
  • Medicines to thin out your blood.
  • Procedures to help your blood flow better.

What increases the risk?

Certain things may make you more likely to have a stroke. Some of these are things that you can change, such as:

  • Being very overweight (obesity).
  • Smoking.
  • Taking birth control pills.
  • Not being active.
  • Drinking too much alcohol.
  • Using drugs.

Other risk factors include:

  • High blood pressure.
  • High cholesterol.
  • Diabetes.
  • Heart disease.
  • Being African American, Native American, Hispanic, or Alaska Native.
  • Being over age 60.
  • Family history of stroke.
  • Having had blood clots, stroke, or warning stroke (transient ischemic attack, TIA) in the past.
  • Sickle cell disease.
  • Being a woman with a history of high blood pressure in pregnancy (preeclampsia).
  • Migraine headache.
  • Sleep apnea.
  • Having an irregular heartbeat (atrial fibrillation).
  • Long-term (chronic) diseases that cause soreness and swelling (inflammation).
  • Disorders that affect how your blood clots.

Follow these instructions at home:


  • Take over-the-counter and prescription medicines only as told by your doctor.
  • If you were told to take aspirin or another medicine to thin your blood, take it exactly as told by your doctor.
    • Taking too much of the medicine can cause bleeding.
    • If you do not take enough, it may not work as well.
  • Know the side effects of your medicines. If you are taking a blood thinner, make sure you:
    • Hold pressure over any cuts for longer than usual.
    • Tell your dentist and other doctors that you take this medicine.
    • Avoid activities that may cause damage or injury to your body.

Eating and drinking

  • Follow instructions from your doctor about what you cannot eat or drink.
  • Eat healthy foods.
  • If you have trouble with swallowing, do these things to avoid choking:
    • Take small bites when eating.
    • Eat foods that are soft or pureed.


  • Follow instructions from your health care team about physical activity.
  • Use a walker or cane as told by your doctor.
  • Keep your home safe so you do not fall. This may include:
    • Having experts look at your home to make sure it is safe.
    • Putting grab bars in the bedroom and bathroom.
    • Using raised toilets.
    • Putting a seat in the shower.

General instructions

  • Do not use any tobacco products.
    • Examples of these are cigarettes, chewing tobacco, and e-cigarettes.
    • If you need help quitting, ask your doctor.
  • Limit how much alcohol you drink. This means no more than 1 drink a day for nonpregnant women and 2 drinks a day for men. One drink equals 12 oz of beer, 5 oz of wine, or 1½ oz of hard liquor.
  • If you need help to stop using drugs or alcohol, ask your doctor to refer you to a program or specialist.
  • Stay active. Exercise as told by your doctor.
  • Keep all follow-up visits as told by your doctor. This is important.

Get help right away if:

  • You suddenly:
    • Have weakness or loss of feeling in your face, arm, or leg.
    • Feel confused.
    • Have trouble talking or understanding what people are saying.
    • Have trouble seeing.
    • Have trouble walking.
    • Have trouble moving your arms or legs.
    • Feel dizzy.
    • Lose your balance or coordination.
    • Have a very bad headache and you do not know why.
  • You pass out (lose consciousness) or almost pass out.
  • You have jerky movements that you cannot control (seizure).

These symptoms may be an emergency. Do not wait to see if the symptoms will go away. Get medical help right away. Call your local emergency services (911 in the U.S.). Do not drive yourself to the hospital.


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