Transient Ischemic Attack (Mini-Stroke) (cont.)
Transient Ischemic Attack (TIA) Causes
Brain cells require oxygen and glucose to function. If the blood supply is lost, then
nutrient supply is lost, and the brain cells stop working. The blood supply to
brain cells can be lost in a few different ways.
- Blood clots can form in one of the tiny arteries of the brain (thrombosis). This is
usually preceded by gradual narrowing of the blood vessel by fatty build-up
called plaque. Atherosclerosis
(atheroma=deposits of cholesterol and fatty tissue + sclerosis + narrowing) of
the brain arteries is the same as the narrowing that occurs in heart arteries preceding a
heart attack. A blood clot can form if the plaque ruptures, leading to further blockage of the artery.
- Blood clots can float downstream from the heart and get caught in a tiny
blood vessel (embolus). Atrial fibrillation
(A fib) is the most common reason for an embolus. In atrial fibrillation, the
upper chambers of the heart jiggle and don't beat in a coordinated fashion.
This allows blood to become stagnant and form small clots. These clots can
embolize to any organ in the body, but the brain is a
- Debris can occlude the blood vessels and stop blood flow. This debris often breaks off from
carotid arteries that are narrowed by the atherosclerotic disease process described
- Blood vessels can leak and cause bleeding within the brain tissue. An
intracerebral hemorrhage (intra=within + cerebral= of the brain +
hemorrhage=bleeding) is often caused by
high blood pressure which can cause small blood vessel
walls to become thin and weak.
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