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Ischemic stroke care

​​​​​​​​​​​​​Ischemic strokes happen when the blood supply to the brain is blocked.

A clot in a blood vessel is often responsible for the blockage.

Marshfield Clinic Stroke Specialists use advanced methods to diagnose and treat strokes.​​

The brain needs a constant supply of blood to work. During a stroke, blood stops flowing to part of the brain.

The affected area is damaged. Its functions are harmed or even lost. Most strokes are caused by a blockage in a blood vessel that supplies the brain. They can also occur if a blood vessel in the brain ruptures (bursts open).

The carotid arteries carry blood from the heart to the brain.

From the heart to the brain

The heart is a pump. It sends oxygen-rich blood out through blood vessels called arteries. If an artery between the heart and the brain is blocked, the brain can’t get enough oxygen. Some artery blockages are caused by fatty deposits (plaque). Arteries can also be blocked by blood clots. Some clots form on the plaque. Others can form in the heart — especially in people with atrial fibrillation, an irregular heart rhythm. If a piece of plaque or clot breaks off and enters the bloodstream, it can flow to the brain and cause a stroke.

How a stroke occurs

Ischemic stroke occurs when an artery that supplies the brain is greatly narrowed or blocked. This can be caused by a buildup of plaque. It can also occur when small pieces of plaque or blood clot (called emboli) break off from the blood vessel or heart into the bloodstream. The emboli flow in the blood until they get stuck in a small blood vessel in the brain.

Healthy Arteries

Damaged Arteries

Healthy arteries. In a healthy artery, the lining of the artery wall is smooth. This lets blood flow freely from the heart to the rest of the body. The brain gets all the blood it needs to function well.

Damaged arteries. High blood pressure, cigarette smoking, or other problems can roughen artery walls. This allows plaque to build up in the walls. Blood clots may also form on the plaque. This can narrow the artery and limit blood flow. 

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If this is a medical emergency, call 911.

Call: 1-866-520-2510

(Monday-Friday, 8 a.m. - 5 p.m.)

 Stroke Video

Stroke Quiz

Find out how much you know about strokes and what causes them.

1. A stroke is caused by a blood clot or blood vessel that breaks. This stops the flow of blood to an area of the brain.
2. All strokes are the same.
3. One symptom of a stroke is a sudden, unexplained tingling or numbness on one side of the body.
4. If you have symptoms of a stroke, you should try to get some rest before calling the doctor.
5. There's no way of predicting if or when someone will have a stroke.
6. Two important ways to reduce your risk for stroke are to lower your blood pressure and to stop smoking.
7. Regular exercise is another way to cut your risk for stroke.
8. Strokes always leave people permanently disabled.