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SSM Health Medical Minute – Blunt trauma can cause stroke

Cervical artery dissection begins as a tear in one layer of the artery wall. Blood leaks through this tear and spreads between the layers of the wall. As the blood collects in the area of the dissection, it forms a clot that limits blood flow through the artery. If the clot is large enough to completely block blood flow, this can result in a stroke. Equally dangerous, pieces of the clot can break off and travel up through the bloodstream, limit the blood flow to the brain and cause a stroke. The accumulation of fatty plaque in the artery walls put individuals at risk for developing cervical artery dissection.

"A common form of stroke that we see especially in younger people is accidents involving the neck", said Dr. Charles Callison, Interventional Vascular Neurologist at SSM Health DePaul Hospital.

The injuries are often from an auto accident or playing sports. Dr. Callison says he sees injury related stroke patients at least once a month. In those injuries the neck goes through almost a torque or whiplash and causes damage to the arteries that are going to the brain. Cervical artery dissection also can occur in the general population as a result of blunt trauma injury to the neck, such as a high-speed car accident or a fall or from hyperextension of the neck in sports or exercise. Depending on the individual, these clots can be treated with medication or removed interventionally.

Dr. Callison says anyone experiencing stroke symptoms should call 911 and seek treatment at a comprehensive stroke center like SSM Health DePaul Hospital.

To find out more about stroke symptoms, click here.

The SSM Health Medical Minute airs every Thursday at 7 PM on KPLR News 11 and at 9 PM on KTVI Fox 2 News.​