What is a Thrombotic Stroke? | Cause & Effect


A Thrombotic Stroke describes an ischemic stroke that occurs when a blood clot, otherwise called a thrombus, blocks the flow of blood moving through the artery in which it was formed. These types of strokes are divided into two distinct categories: large-vessel thrombosis and small-vessel thrombosis.

Learn more about Thrombotic strokes, the categorical divide between Thrombotic strokes, and how a Thrombotic stroke might affect you or a loved one in the overview below:

What is Thrombotic Stroke?

As mentioned, a thrombotic stroke describes a stroke wherein a blood clot (thrombus) forms inside one of the arteries in the brain or leading up to it.

When this happens, the blood clot blocks the passage of oxygen into the brain and damages or kills off the brain cells that ensure the brain’s functions. This can occur in both the small arteries and the large arteries of the brain but is most common in arteries affected by atherosclerosis (the build-up of fatty plaque in the arteries.)

Types of Thrombotic Strokes

The location in which the blood clot forms decides whether it is a large-vessel thrombosis and small-vessel thrombosis. Although they start the same (with the formation of a blood clot), how they affect the brain and the body is completely different:

  • Large-Vessel Stroke: A stroke that occurs in the large, blood-supplying arteries in the brain. Most commonly the carotid artery or the middle cerebral artery. This type of Thrombotic stroke is often the most dangerous as the damages incurred are usually more significant and permanent.
  • Small-Vessel Stroke: A stroke that occurs in the smaller arteries of the brain. Sometimes called a lacunar stroke or a subcortical stroke. Unlike large-vessel strokes, which have more opportunity to affect a larger area of the brain, small-vessel strokes are often less damaging as it affects only a specific region of the brain.

In either case, the effects of a Thrombotic Stroke are dependent on which area of the brain is blocked off from blood. And the treatments required will be based on the damages incurred in that blocked off and damaged area.

What Causes a Thrombotic Stroke?

There are many things that can cause a thrombotic stroke to occur:

  • Atherosclerosis: As mentioned earlier, a thrombotic stroke is more likely to occur in blood vessels that are affected by atherosclerosis. Atherosclerosis is a condition that describes the buildup of fatty plaque against arterial walls. This condition narrows blood passageways and makes it easier for blood clots to form.
  • Diabetes: Thrombotic Strokes are also more likely to occur in those that are diabetic, as it’s associated with many of the other known risk factors linked to the narrowing of blood vessels (high cholesterol, high blood pressure, etc.)
  • Blood-Clotting Disorders: People with blood-clotting disorders are also more likely to have a thrombotic stroke, as these disorders can make blood clots more likely to form.

It’s important to note that: There are a host of other conditions related to the three mentioned above that can increase one’s chances of incurring a Thrombotic Stroke. For example, the most common cause of atherosclerosis is smoking, which means that smoking can cause a Thrombotic Stroke.

What Are the After-Effects of a Thrombotic Stroke?

As mentioned, the after-effects of a Thrombotic Stroke differ depending on what area of the brain it affected. These after-effects can take the form of short-term and long-term symptoms that can significantly affect how the stroke patient will live their life. Including:

  • Numbness/Weakness on one side of the body
  • Aphasia (Inability to understand or speak words)
  • Vision Impairment
  • Loss of Balance or Coordination
  • Nausea, Headaches, Dizziness, Confusion, etc.
  • Facial Drooping

To minimize these after-effects and prevent any further major complications, a Thrombotic Stroke must be addressed immediately. People who are at a higher risk of a Thrombotic Stroke should also be mindful of the risks and take preventative actions to stay the progression of the conditions that could lead to a stroke.

Fortunately, treatments, and various therapies, for Thrombotic Strokes do exist so long as the affected person is able to receive immediate care. So, the better prepared you, or your loved ones, are at getting immediate help in case a stroke does occur, the better.


  1. Jose Vega MD, P. (2020, January 30). Causes and Effects of Thrombotic Stroke. Retrieved September 30, 2020, from https://www.verywellhealth.com/what-is-a-thrombotic-stroke-3146228

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