Signs and Symptoms

Ischemic Stroke: Signs and Symptoms, Causes, Risk Factors, Diagnosis, Complications, and Treatment

Ischemic stroke is one of three types of stroke. Ischemic stroke has the highest number among other types of stroke.

What is an ischemic stroke?

Ischemic stroke happens when blood supply is cut off from the brain. The blocked or cut off blood flow in an ischemic stroke may be caused by a blood clot or by atherosclerosis in the brain. Atherosclerosis is a disease causes the narrowing of the arteries.

What are the signs and symptoms to know that you have an ischemic stroke?

Ischemic stroke happens quickly, from minutes to hours, and requires medical treatment right away.

The signs of stroke including

  • Numbness or weakness of the face
  • Numbness, weakness of arm or leg, mainly on one side of his/her body
  • Confusion, difficulty to speak, or understand
  • Problems with eyesight (trouble to see in one or both eyes)
  • Trouble to walk, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination
  • Severe headache with unknown cause

There are additional symptoms for acute ischemic stroke that effect in women including:

  • Pain on the face, arm, or leg
  • Nausea or hiccup
  • Angina or chest pain or palpitation
  • Dyspnea or shortness of breath

All the symptoms may not appear with every stroke, sometimes, it goes away and comes back later.

What causes of ischemic stroke?

Ischemic stroke caused by blood clots that lead an irregular heartbeat such as arrhythmia, heart valves problems, infection of the heart muscle, hardening of the arteries, blood-clotting disorders, inflammation of the blood vessel, or heart attack.

The less common cause of ischemic stroke appears when blood pressure becomes too low or called hypotension, reducing blood flow to the brain. Low blood pressure can be a result of a heart attack, large loss of blood, and severe infection. Each one f these conditions affects the flow of blood through the heart and blood vessels and increases the risk of stroke.

What are the risk factors of ischemic stroke?

  • A family history of stroke
  • Personal history of stroke or heart attack
  • Race
  • Smoking
  • High blood pressure or hypertension
  • Diabetes
  • Coronary artery disease
  • High cholesterol 
  • Atrial fibrillation
  • Sickle cell anemia
  • Clotting disorder
  • Congenital heart defects
  • Overweight or obese
  • Heavy alcohol drinking
  • Use illegal drugs such as cocaine or methamphetamines
  • In people younger than 50 years old: mostly causes of stroke also include migraine, drug abuse, energy consumption or herbal supplement, and arterial dissection.

How can you diagnose ischemic stroke?

Your doctor may ask you about your family or personal history and physical examination to determine the diagnosis of ischemic stroke. The tests define the root of cause might include:

  • Electrocardiogram (ECG or EKG)
  • Echocardiography
  • An angiography
  • Blood tests
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
  • Computerized tomography (CT)
  • Carotid angiogram
  • Carotid ultrasound

What are the complications of ischemic stroke?

  • Bleeding in the brain
  • Damage brain cell
  • Seizure
  • Problem with memory and understanding

How is the treatment of ischemic stroke?

The treatment of stroke depends on the types. For ischemic stroke:

  • The treatment focuses on restoring blood flow to the brain
  • Your health care providers may provide you dissolving medicines such as tissue plasminogen activator (TPA), aspirin or another antiplatelet medicine
  • A procedure may be needed and done to restore blood flow in some cases (the procedure called thrombectomy).


  1. Cedars. (2020). Retrieved from Sinai:
  2. Standford Health Care. (2020). Retrieved from Ischemic Stroke:

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