, Volume 13, Issue 3, pp 200-207
Date: 18 Feb 2011

Vascular Mechanisms in the Pathogenesis of Stroke

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Stroke is one of the most devastating manifestations of two common diseases, atherosclerosis and hypertension. It represents the second leading cause of death and a major cause of disability worldwide. Besides age (a nonmodifiable risk factor), hypertension is the most important cardiovascular risk factor for developing both ischemic and hemorrhagic stroke, as well as small vessel disease predisposing to lacunar infarction, white matter lesions, and cerebral microbleeds. In addition, hypertension predisposes to atherosclerosis and cardiac diseases (notably atrial fibrillation), thereby promoting cerebral embolism. Inflammatory mechanisms play a central role in the pathogenesis and progression of atherosclerosis, plaque rupture, thrombosis, and stroke. Endothelial dysfunction, in part resulting from excessive production of reactive oxygen species, is an important mechanism of cerebrovascular damage. This article reviews recent data on vascular mechanisms that participate in the pathogenesis of stroke.