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Etiology and clinical manifestations of transient ischemic attack

Karen L Furie, MD, MPH
Hakan Ay, MD
Section Editor
Scott E Kasner, MD
Deputy Editor
John F Dashe, MD, PhD


Cerebrovascular disease is the third leading cause of death in developed countries after heart disease and cancer; the overall prevalence is 794 per 100,000. It is estimated that more than 700,000 patients have a stroke each year in the United States. The loss of these patients from the work force and the extended hospitalization they require during recovery make the economic impact of the disease one of the most devastating in medicine.

Cerebrovascular disease is caused by one of several pathophysiologic processes involving the blood vessels of the brain:

The process may be intrinsic to the vessel, as in atherosclerosis, lipohyalinosis, inflammation, amyloid deposition, arterial dissection, developmental malformation, aneurysmal dilation, or venous thrombosis.

The process may originate remotely, as occurs when an embolus from the heart or extracranial circulation lodges in an intracranial vessel.

The process may result from inadequate cerebral blood flow due to decreased perfusion pressure or increased blood viscosity.


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Literature review current through: Apr 2017. | This topic last updated: Jan 10, 2014.
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