What is the etiology of thrombotic stroke?

Updated: May 27, 2020
  • Author: Edward C Jauch, MD, MS, FAHA, FACEP; Chief Editor: Helmi L Lutsep, MD  more...
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Thrombogenic factors may include injury to and loss of endothelial cells; this loss exposes the subendothelium and results in platelet activation by the subendothelium, activation of the clotting cascade, inhibition of fibrinolysis, and blood stasis. Thrombotic strokes are generally thought to originate on ruptured atherosclerotic plaques. Arterial stenosis can cause turbulent blood flow, which can promote thrombus formation; atherosclerosis (ie, ulcerated plaques); and platelet adherence. All cause the formation of blood clots that either embolize or occlude the artery.

Intracranial atherosclerosis may be the cause of thrombotic stroke in patients with widespread atherosclerosis. In other patients, especially younger patients, other causes should be considered, including the following [7, 42] :

  • Hypercoagulable states (eg, antiphospholipid antibodies, protein C deficiency, protein S deficiency, pregnancy)

  • Sickle cell disease

  • Fibromuscular dysplasia

  • Arterial dissections

  • Vasoconstriction associated with substance abuse (eg, cocaine, amphetamines)

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