The brain is packed with arteries that supply oxygenated blood to ensure proper functioning. Without these arteries, the brain would not be able to function. These arteries also provide energy and nutrients in the form of glucose to the brain. On a daily basis, the brain consumes a vast quantity of glucose for functioning. It is absolutely imperative for survival that these arteries function correctly. Blood clots in the brain can thus become life threatening. The formation of blood clots can result from blood vessel damage. Depending on where the blood clot in the brain forms, and the artery affected, symptoms can vary. They can range from severe headaches and confusion, to seizures and paralysis.

It is extremely important to seek medical attention immediately if these symptoms are present. Immediate medical attention can help to prevent permanent brain damage and greatly improve prognosis. There are many risk factors for developing blood clots in the brain. Many are preventable, but some are genetic such as family history and aging. Other risk factors including smoking, being overweight, lack of exercise, high blood pressure and high blood cholesterol. It is important to speak with your doctor to best minimize your risk factors for the formation of blood clots in the brain. There are many treatment options for blood clots in the brain. A common remedy for blood clots is the use of medications such as blood thinners and anticoagulants. These medications help to prevent blood clotting in the future. Also, thrombolytics can be used for dissolving blood clots. Since blood clots in the brain tend to be more severe, emergency surgery to actively remove the clot. It is best to discuss with your doctor what the best treatment method is for a blood clot.

Formation of Blood Clots

The formation of blood clots in the brain can directly translate to a life-threatening occurrence such as a stroke. The formation of blood clots can result from many causes such as damage or trauma to blood vessels, abnormal platelet activity, genetic disorders that promote coagulation, and atherosclerosis. Damage to blood vessels is especially important in the formation of blood clots. Trauma to the inner walls of blood vessels promotes coagulation of blood and thus, blood clots. This is especially troubling if it occurs in the brain such as after a concussion. Hyperactive platelet activity can directly promote the formation of blood clots in the brain as well. Atherosclerosis also another common cause of blood clots. This is when plaque build up contributes to the narrowing of arteries and thus, the likelihood for blood clots increases.

Symptoms of Blood Clots in the Brain

Symptoms of blood clots in the brain are dependent on where the blood clot forms and which arteries are affected. Every single part of the brain has a different function. For example, the occipital lobe plays a crucial role in vision, while the cerebellum aids in motor movement and coordination. Thus, symptoms of blood clots in the brain can be extremely wide ranging. They can include migraines, speech impairments, cognitive decline, changes in mood and behaviour, seizures, motor difficulties, sensory loss and paralysis. It is important to monitor any changes in overall health immediately and be constantly aware of the previous mentioned signs and symptoms of a blood clot in the brain.

Risk Factors for Blood Clots

It is extremely important to minimize the risk factors associated with developing a blood clot in the brain. Brain health is arguably the most important thing to developing a healthy lifestyle. There are many preventable risk factors for developing a blood clot in the brain. These include obesity, becoming pregnant, long periods of inactivity, tobacco consumption, diabetes, trauma, high blood pressure and high blood cholesterol.

Obesity, Pregnancy, Inactivity

These risk factors contribute to blood pooling in the lower extremities. Blood clots in the lower extremities have the ability to travel to the brain.

Smoking and Diabetes

Smoking directly contributes to the hyperactive platelet coagulation. Smoking can also play a role in the damaging of blood vessels. Also, those who suffer from diabetes have an exponentially higher risk of developing a blood clot. High blood sugar can contribute to plaque build up and further damaging of blood vessel lining.

High Blood Cholesterol and Blood Pressure

High blood cholesterol directly contributes to the development of atherosclerosis. The narrowing of arteries contributes to an increase likelihood of the formation of a blood clot. High blood pressure also puts strain on the blood vessels, which contributes to trauma and damage.

Diagnosis of Blood Clots

The accurate and quick diagnosis of blood clots in the brain is imperative in improving prognosis and recovery. Blood clots in the brain are potentially life threatening and thus, quick diagnostic tests and procedures are needed. These test and procedures can include blood tests, computed tomography (CT) scans, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), ultrasounds, and angiograms.

Blood Tests

Blood tests are used to examine the platelet levels in the blood stream. Also, they shed light on the potential cause of the clotting such as high cholesterol or lipid levels in the blood.

Computed Tomography (CT) Scan

Computed tomography scans of the head are a non-invasive way to examine the blood vessels and surrounding structures of the brain. They are imperative in providing information on the location of a blood clot and other brain abnormalities. If CT scans come back negative, other tests and procedures will be used to confirm a diagnosis.

Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)

Magnetic resonance imaging is another non-invasive procedure that can greatly examine the brain and whether a blood clot in the brain is present. MRI’s often provide more detail about brain abnormalities and potential bleeding in the brain. MRI’s are usually requested after CT scans.

Ultrasounds

Ultrasounds are also a non-invasive procedure and excellent in providing a measure of the velocity of blood in the vessels. Due to blood clots and narrowing, blood often speeds up in these areas, which is detected by the ultrasound and provides evidence of the location of clotting.

Angiograms

Angiograms are an invasive procedure and thus, done only if needed. Angiograms involve the insertion of a catheter into a blood vessel in the lower extremity and eventually travels to the brain. Thus, angiograms can help visualize blood vessels and blood clots in the brain through the use of dyes and subsequent X-Rays. It is important to discuss with your doctor the best method to provide an accurate diagnosis of your situation.

Treatment of Blood Clots in the Brain

Time is absolutely critical in the treatment of blood clots in the brain. This is due to the fact that certain medication for blood clots are time sensitive and their efficacy is time dependent. Also, the remedy for blood clots must be taken into effect immediately to avoid potential permanent brain damage. In general, treatment options for blood clots in the brain are dependent on the severity and location of the clot. Dissolving blood clots is the number one priority in the treatment of a blood clot in the brain. This is so adequate blood flow can region the sensitive regions in the cerebrum. A lifestyle change followed by medication for blood clots is usually the first elected method of treatment. If this is deemed ineffective, surgery may be needed as a remedy for blood clots.

Lifestyle Changes

Physicians usually recommend lifestyle changes as a remedy for blood clots. This is to help prevent obesity and lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels as these directly contribute to blood clots in the brain. Also, becoming more active not only lowers the risk of suffering from a blood clot in the brain, it helps overall health and well-being. Quitting smoking is also highly recommended.

Medication for Blood Clots

Common medication for blood clots involves the use of anticoagulants and antiplatelets. These are directly responsible for helping mitigate the existing clot from increasing in size and help to prevent future blood clots in the brain from forming. Warfarin is a commonly used as a remedy for blood clots for this reason as it as a proven anticoagulant. Another class of drug, thrombolytics, is responsible for dissolving blood clots. These drugs seek out the blood clot and actively dissolve it. The most common thrombolytic is tissue plasminogen activator (tPA). Tissue plasminogen activator is time sensitive as it is only effective if given 3-4 hours after blood clot formation. This is why it is imperative to seek medical assistance immediately if suffering from a blood clot.

Surgery

Surgeons may elect to perform a minimally invasive procedure that involves drilling a small hole into the skull, above the location of the suspected blood clot. Once the brain is exposed, direct exposure to tissue plasminogen activator can be placed on the clot in hopes to dissolve it at a quicker pace. Craniotomy is another highly invasive procedure that involves the removal of a portion of the skull to then remove blood and repair the damaged blood vessel. It is best to discuss with your doctor what the best treatment method is for blood clots in the brain.