What is the role of atherosclerosis in the etiology of ischemic stroke?

Updated: May 27, 2020
  • Author: Edward C Jauch, MD, MS, FAHA, FACEP; Chief Editor: Helmi L Lutsep, MD  more...
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Evidence continues to accumulate that inflammation and genetic factors have important roles in the development of atherosclerosis and, specifically, in stroke. According to the current paradigm, atherosclerosis is not a bland cholesterol storage disease, as previously thought, but a dynamic, chronic, inflammatory condition caused by a response to endothelial injury.

Traditional risk factors, such as oxidized low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol and smoking, contribute to this injury. It has been suggested, however, that infections may also contribute to endothelial injury and atherosclerosis.

Host genetic factors, moreover, may modify the response to these environmental challenges, although inherited risk for stroke is likely multigenic. Even so, specific single-gene disorders with stroke as a component of the phenotype demonstrate the potency of genetics in determining stroke risk.

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