A stroke involves abrupt loss of or damage to the brain function due to the disruption of oxygenated blood from the arteries to and within the brain. Take note that this lack of normal flow of blood can impair or even kill the brain cells in the affected area. A stroke that involves the brain stem at the base of the brain is considered life-threatening since the brain stem is responsible for controlling vital functions such as heart rate, breathing and the blood pressure.
The symptoms of a stroke include abrupt weakness or numbness, a sudden severe headache, difficulty speaking, confusion, drowsiness, blurred vision, nausea and loss of consciousness. The potential causes of a brain stem stroke typically involve the arteries that supply this region with blood.
An aneurysm involves a bulge or ballooning in the wall of an artery. This is usually caused by the stretching and weakening of an area of the artery wall that eventually becomes dilated. It is important to note that the weakened region is prone to the buildup of blockages and even rupture and bleeding. If an aneurysm occurs in the carotid artery, it can lead to a stroke that affects the brain stem and other parts of the brain.
A brain stem stroke can occur due to impairment or disease affecting the arteries that go up to this region of the brain. Remember that these arteries also include the carotid arteries in the neck as well as the vertebral arteries that lengthen from the spinal area up to the brain.
Atherosclerosis or stiffening of the arteries occurs once the arterial walls become stiff and eventually lose their pliability due to the calcium buildup and cholesterol plaques. This results to the constriction or narrowing of the arteries which drastically reduces or stops the flow of blood to the brain stem that results to a stroke.
The presence of blockages within the carotid arteries as well as other arteries that provide blood to the brain stem can also be due to a thrombus or a clot inside the artery or an embolus which is a clot that journeys up to the brain that originated from other arteries. The buildup of cholesterol plaque on the walls of the carotid arteries has the potential to break off and travel to the brain of the individual. Always bear in mind that the blockages can stop or severely diminish the flow of blood to the brain stem, thus resulting to a stroke.
Depending on the exact cause of the brain stem stroke, an individual who shows any symptoms must seek immediate medical care so that timely intervention can be started in order to prevent the condition from getting worse.