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A blood clot or embolus, can form and break off from the heart. The clot travels through the bloodstream where it can lodge in the artery of the brain, blocking the flow of oxygen-rich blood. The lack of oxygen results in damage, destruction, or even tissue death of the brain beyond the affected area.
The result is a stroke.
Review Date 9/7/2021
Updated by: David C. Dugdale, III, MD, Professor of Medicine, Division of General Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Washington School of Medicine. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.