What Is Cerebral Ischemia?

According to Colombia University Medical Center's Department of Neurosurgery, cerebral ischemia is a condition that occurs when there is not enough blood flow to the brain to meet metabolic demand. This leads to cerebral hypoxia, or a lack of oxygen in the brain, that results in ischemic stroke, cerebral infarction or the death of brain tissue.

Cerebral ischemia is categorized as a type of stroke, notes Colombia University. There are two main types of cerebral ischemia, a focal ischemia, which affects small parts of the brain, and global ischemia, which affects large areas of brain tissue. Symptoms of the disease include impaired vision, movement and speech and unconsciousness, blindness, weakness in the body and problems with coordination.

Cerebral ischemia may also cause stroke, irreversible brain damage and cardiorespiratory arrest. Symptoms can vary in length, lasting anywhere from a few seconds to several minutes. The causes of the disease vary but are generally a result of a patient having sickle cell anemia or congenital heart defects. Treatments for cerebral ischemia include the administering of a drug called alteplase, according to Columbia University. If the drug is administered within four and a half hours after a patient suffers an episode, his chances of a promising outcome are greatly increased.