Stroke can happen at any point in a person’s lifetime, from infancy to adulthood. A stroke is caused by the interruption of normal flow of blood to the brain, either by a blockage or a rupture in the blood vessels. When a part of the brain doesn’t receive its regular flow of blood that carries vital nutrients and oxygen, brain cells die, causing a loss of brain function. The area of the brain where the stroke takes place will determine the extent of the damage and the after-effects. Children may experience two types of stroke: hemorrhagic stroke (rupture of blood vessels), or ischemic stroke (blockage caused by a blood clot). Hemorrhagic stroke occurs when a blood vessel ruptures in the brain. If an artery wall is weak, blood can collect in the wall causing it to balloon (aneurysm). If the pressure builds, the aneurysm can rupture and damage the brain either by flooding at the leakage site or by shortage of blood supply beyond the leakage. Ischemic stroke is usually caused by a blood clot in the brain. A quick diagnosis is important to minimize risk for brain damage. Treatment focuses on stabilizing the child (controlling blood pressure and body temperature and helping them breathe), and treating the hemorrhage itself. Kids who have had a hemorrhagic stroke will be looked after by the vascular neurosurgery team. Surgical options may include microsurgery to clip the aneurysm or remove the abnormal vessels.
Insights of pediatric cardiology,