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In addition to thrombotic occlusion at the site of cerebral artery atherosclerosis, ischemic infarction can be produced by emboli arising from proximally situated atheromatus lesions to vessels located more distal in the arterial tree [Mohr JP, Sacco RL. In: Barnett HJM, et al (eds). Stroke. Pathophysiology, Diagnosis, and Management. New York: Churchill Livingstone, 1992:271].

A small clot may break off from a larger thrombus and be carried to other places in the bloodstream. When the embolus reaches an artery too narrow to pass through and becomes lodged, blood flow distal to the fragment ceases, resulting in infarction of distal brain tissue due to lack of nutrients and oxygen.

As a cause of stroke, embolism accounts for approximately 32% of cases.

Acute Ischemic Stroke: New Concepts of Care
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