Ischemic Stroke

Also known as: arterial ischemic stroke, AIS, transient ischemic attack, TIA.

What is ischemic stroke?

“Ischemia” is the lack of blood supply to an organ resulting in not enough oxygen being delivered to meet the needs of the organ to function normally. When this happens to the blood supply of the brain it's called an “ischemic stroke”. This leads to damage or death of brain cells.

Ischemic strokes can occur before or soon after birth (perinatal strokes), or later in childhood. It tends to be more common in boys than girls.

What causes ischemic stroke?

There are a large number of causes of a blood clot blocking the flow of blood to the brain and they vary with age.

A common cause in newborns/ young infants is a clot forming in the heart and traveling to the brain. This is often associated with congenital heart problems like abnormal valves or an infection.

In older children, Sickle Cell Anemia, abnormalities of the arteries themselves (arteriopathies), clots traveling from other parts of the body (emboli) and many causes (congenital and acquired) of blood clotting more easily than normal. Finally, in about 5-15% of children no cause is found.

What are the symptoms of ischemic stroke?

In newborn babies, AIS frequently presents with seizures, apnea (no breathing), and drowsiness and lethargy. In older children symptoms may (or may not) come on suddenly and include weakness, paralysis or tingling in the face, arms or leg, headache, trouble with swallowing or vision, difficulty speaking, nausea, vomiting, confusion and other symptoms.

What are ischemic stroke care options?

Treatment is focused on emergency care to improve blood/oxygen delivery to the brain, diagnosing the underlying cause and preventing/decreasing the negative outcomes associated with AIS.

Long term rehabilitation services may be needed to assist your child regain full function.

Reviewed by: Jack Wolfsdorf, MD, FAAP

This page was last updated on: October 07, 2020 03:23 PM