by Cynthia M. Johnson, MA
A brainstem stroke happens when blood supply to the base of the brain is stopped. This can affect many functions in the body, such as heart rate, breathing, and blood pressure.
There are two main types: ischemic and hemorrhagic. An ischemic stroke is the most common type.
Medical care is needed right away. Cells in the brain die if they are without oxygen for more than a few minutes. This can be deadly.
An ischemic stroke happens when blood flow is blocked. This may be caused by:
A hemorrhagic stroke is caused by a burst blood vessel. Blood pools in the brain. This slows or stops the flow of blood and causes a buildup of pressure on the brain.
This problem is more common in older adults and people with a family history of stroke.
Problems that affect blood vessel health and blood flow can raise the risk of stroke. Some examples are:
Daily habits can also play a role. Some examples are:
Some symptoms may be:
A stroke needs to be diagnosed quickly. The doctor will ask you or a family member about your symptoms and health history. A physical exam will be done. The doctor will look for signs of nerve or brain problems.
Blood tests may be done to look for clotting problems.
Images may be taken of the brain. This can be done with:
Heart function will be checked. This can be done with:
Emergency care will be needed. The heart and lungs may need support. A tube may also be placed to help with breathing. Other options are:
For an ischemic stroke, medicine may be given to:
For a hemorrhagic stroke, medicine may be given to:
Options to treat an ischemic stroke are:
Therapy may be needed to regain lost skills. Options are:
The risk of stroke can be lowered by:
American Heart Association
National Stroke Association
Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada
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Intracerebral hemorrhage. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/intracerebral-hemorrhage. Accessed January 12, 2021.
Ischemic strokes (clots). American Stroke Association website. Available at: American Stroke Association website. Available at: https://www.stroke.org/en/about-stroke/types-of-stroke/ischemic-stroke-clots#.Vk3ipE2FPIU. Accessed January 12, 2021.
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Stroke (acute management). EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/management/stroke-acute-management-1. Accessed January 12, 2021.
Subarachnoid hemorrhage. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/subarachnoid-hemorrhage. Accessed January 12, 2021.
1/18/2017 DynaMed Systematic Literature Surveillance https://www.dynamed.com/prevention/cardiovascular-disease-possible-risk-factors: Emdin CA, Odutayo A, Wet al. Meta-analysis of anxiety as a risk factor for cardiovascular disease. Am J Cardiol. 2016;118(4):511-519.
Last reviewed December 2020 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Rimas Lukas, MD
Last Updated: 1/12/2021
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