Stroke Awareness Month: Don't Blame Your Brain for Ischemic Stroke! Here’s Why! by Donna John
Because a stroke occurs in the brain, it might seem like that’s where the problem started, but that is not usually the case. Most ischemic strokes are caused by a complication of atherosclerosis, the official name for hardening of the arteries. That’s a common health issue that can range from minor to troublesome – to deadly, according to the Society for Vascular Surgery.
Patients who have high LDL (bad) cholesterol may have hard plaque building up inside their artery walls. Plaque buildup makes arteries narrower and less flexible. “When plaque builds up in your carotid artery (the main artery that provides oxygen to the brain), it can cause the artery to narrow – that’s called carotid stenosis,” says vascular surgeon Dr. Mohammad Eslami of the University of Pittsburg Medical Center. “Small clots can form on the plaque, then break off and travel to the brain. If a clot blocks a vessel in the brain it can cause a minor or major stroke depending on the diameter of the blocked artery.”
Carotid stenosis is responsible for up to one-third of all strokes, he adds, and stroke causes one in every 15 deaths. About 700,000 strokes occur every year, usually in men. Learn more about atherosclerosis and other vascular diseases here!