Migraine Term of the Day: Ischemic Stroke

Patient Expert

When we're looking at Migraine and headache information, whether it's from our doctor, a book, or an online article, we sometimes come across medical terms that can be confusing.

Sometimes, it's easy enough to substitute another word or a short phrase for the medical term. At other times, substituting just doesn't convey quite the same meaning or takes more than a few words.

Some of you have expressed an interest in learning more of the medical terminology that comes up when discussing Migraine disease and other headache disorders. So, I'll be posting a "term of the day," probably a couple of times a week. If there are terms you'd like to have defined, please leave a comment to let me know what it is.

Today's term: Ischemic Stroke.

An ischemic stroke occurs when the blood supply to the part of the brain is suddenly interrupted. The symptoms of stroke are easy to spot:

  • sudden numbness or weakness, especially on one side of the body;
  • sudden confusion or trouble speaking or understanding speech;
  • sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes;
  • sudden trouble walking;
  • dizziness;
  • loss of balance or coordination.

Brain cells die when they no longer receive oxygen and nutrients from the blood or when they are damaged by sudden bleeding into or around the brain. These damaged cells can linger in a compromised state for several hours. With timely treatment, these cells can be saved.

Stroke is diagnosed through several techniques:

  • a short neurological examination,
  • blood tests,
  • CT scans,
  • MRI scans,
  • Doppler ultrasound,
  • and arteriography.

Stroke seems to run in some families. Family members may have a genetic tendency for stroke or share a lifestyle that contributes to stroke. The most important risk factors for stroke are

  • hypertension,
  • heart disease,
  • diabetes,
  • and cigarette smoking.

When discussing Migraine disease and other headache disorders, we've been seeing news stories and other information about Migraine increasing stroke risk. You can read more about that in: