A small vessel stroke involves disruption in the flow of blood within one of the small arteries in the brain. It is important to note that the arteries divide into smaller capillaries which provide oxygenated blood to a small site in the brain. A small vessel stroke damages the part of the brain that is being supplied by the small blood vessel.
Why does it occur?
In some cases, the small artery can end up irregular on the inside which makes it susceptible to catch cholesterol and blood clots as the blood moves through it.
Once a clot forms inside a blood vessel, the blood of flow is obstructed which is called a thrombus. In case a clot formed in a different part of the body, usually in the carotid artery or heart, it can dislodge and move to other blood vessels, eventually clogging a small artery in the brain. This moving clot is called as an embolus.
What happens if an individual experience a small vessel stroke?
A small vessel stroke can be considered mild but there are instances where it can be serious. Remember that it can occur in any part of the brain.
- Brain stem – a small vessel stroke that involves the brainstem is considered serious since this part of the brain is responsible for vital functions.
- Cortical stroke – this involves the exterior regions of the brain that often receive blood from various blood vessels. Some cases go completely unnoticed which is a called as a silent stroke.
- Subcortical stroke – when it comes to a small subcortical stroke, it involves the deeper areas of the brain and can result to significant symptoms such as weakness or loss of sensation but not usually life-threatening.