Ischemic strokes - L'Infirmière Magazine n° 303 du 15/06/2012 | Espace Infirmier

L'infirmière Magazine n° 303 du 15/06/2012



Ischemic strokes are etiologically classified as either ischemic or hemorrhagic. Ischemic strokes are caused by a sudden interruption of blood flow to the brain and account for 87 % of all strokes.

The AJN explains(1) that « they occur when there’s an acute occlusion of cerebral blood vessels or systemic hypoperfusion depriving the brain of oxygen and glucose. Ischemic strokes are further classified as either thrombotic or embolic. Thrombotic strokes occur as a result of atherosclerotic plaque formation with subsequent rupture and thrombus development. Embolic strokes occur as a result of the formation of a thrombus, usually within the heart (cardio-embolic) or large arteries within the chest (cardio-aortic). A segment of the thrombus breaks off, travelling through the bloodstream from the left heart into the cerebral circulation, occluding small distal blood vessels in the brain… Presenting symptoms include numbness or weakness  ; confusion or change in mental status  ; trouble speaking or understanding speech  ; walking difficulty, dizziness or loss of balance  ; sudden severe headache  ; and deterioration of vision in one or both eyes. »

A CT scan can determine a stroke’s etiology : thrombolytic drugs are used only for ischemic strokes and must be administered rapidly. German researchers have recently tested a Mobile Stroke Unit, equipped with scanners and thrombolytics, to help reduce the time between the alarm and the treatment decision(2).

1– The American Journal of Nursing, May 2011 – Volume 111 – Issue 5 – p 69 – Auteurs : Linda K. Cook et Sheryl L. Clements.

2– The Lancet Neurology, Early Online Publication, 11 April 2012 doi : 10.1016/S1474-4422(12)70057-1


Blood flow (n)

Circulation sanguine

To deprive (v)


Further (adv)

En outre  ; par ailleurs

To break off (v)

Se détacher

Presenting symptoms (n)

Symptômes révélateurs

Numbness (n)


To help (v)

Aider (suivi de l’infinitif sans « to »)


1. When does a thrombus become an embolus ?

When it breaks off from the vessel wall.

2. Where do embolic strokes usually originate ?

In the heart or in the chest’s large arteries.

3. Why would thrombolytic drugs be contraindicated in the case of a hemorraghic stroke ?

Because they are anticoagulants and are therefore « … used only for ischemic strokes ».

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