Carotid stenosis, carotid occlusion
Carotid occlusion is one of the leading causes of ischemic stroke.

A stroke, often called a "brain attack," is a medical emergency caused by either too little or too much blood flow to the brain. It's the third-leading cause of death in the United States and the most common cause of neurological disability. Strokes are serious neurological emergencies that need to be treated immediately.

Recognize the Signs of Stroke

There is more than one type of stroke:

A transient ischemic attack (TIA or "mini-stroke"), often caused by carotid occlusive disease, carotid artery stenosis, or other conditions that prevent the brain from receiving the amount of oxygen it needs. Find out more about TIA by reading about carotid occlusive disease and related conditions that can cause a transient ischemic attack.

An ischemic stroke is caused by a more severe blockage in a blood vessel, and is more serious than a TIA. Ischemic stroke most often starts with advanced carotid occlusive disease, in which plaque forms in a narrowed artery and blocks the flow of blood to the brain (called thrombosis). A piece of that plaque may break off from the narrowed carotid artery and form a clot that blocks an artery deeper in the brain (called an embolism). An ischemic stroke may also occur when a blood clot forms in the heart or other part of the body, ultimately preventing blood flow to the brain when a piece of the clot breaks away and occludes a vessel in the brain.  Find out more about carotid occlusive disease and related conditions that can cause an ischemic stroke, or read about surgery for ischemic stroke.

A hemorrhagic stroke is caused by bleeding in the brain that creates pressure on surrounding brain tissue. It may be caused by hypertension (high blood pressure), a ruptured aneurysm, arteriovenous malformation, or other vascular abnormality that can result in sudden bleeding in the brain. (Find out more about intracerebral hemorrhage/hemorrhagic stroke.)

Ischemic strokes (which account for 85 percent of all strokes) are more common than hemorrhagic strokes (15 percent), and they generally occur in those over 60. Risk factors for stroke include hypertension, high cholesterol, smoking, diabetes, drug and alcohol use, and a sedentary lifestyle.

Find out more about the Stroke Program at Weill Cornell Medicine Neurological Surgery.

Request an Appointment | Refer a Patient

Dr. Y. Pierre Gobin on Aneurysms, Stroke, and Retinoblastoma

Dr. Y. Pierre Gobin: Aneurysms, AVMs, Stroke, and Retinoblastoma
Older adults are at the greatest risk for stroke, but the truth is that anyone can have a stroke at any time. Stroke is less common in young adults, but they can and do happen.
Over the past couple of years there has been an explosion of new data proving the benefits of two things: early intervention for stroke, and mechanical embolectomy using endovascular techniques.  We have long known that “time is brain,” but we...

Our Care Team

  • Chair and Neurosurgeon-in-Chief
  • Margaret and Robert J. Hariri, MD ’87, PhD ’87 Professor of Neurological Surgery
Phone: 212-746-4684
  • Associate Professor, Neurological Surgery
Phone: 718-670-1837
  • Director of Cerebrovascular Surgery and Interventional Neuroradiology
  • Associate Professor of Neurological Surgery
  • Fellowship Director, Endovascular Neurosurgery
Phone: 212-746-5149
  • Professor of Radiology in Neurological Surgery
Phone: 212-746-4998
  • Assistant Professor of Radiology in Neurological Surgery (Manhattan and Queens)
Phone: 212-746-2821 (Manhattan) or 718-303-3739 (Queens)
  • Director of Cerebrovascular and Endovascular Neurosurgery, NewYork-Presbyterian Brooklyn Methodist
Phone: 718-780-3070
  • Professor of Neuropsychology in Neurological Surgery
  • Director of Neuropsychology Services
Phone: 212-746-3356
  • Clinical Neuropsychologist
  • Associate Professor of Neuropsychology in Neurological Surgery
Phone: 212-746-3356
  • Assistant Professor of Neurological Surgery (Brooklyn and Manhattan)
Phone: 212-746-2821 (Manhattan); 718-780-3070 (Brooklyn)

Reviewed by: Philip E. Stieg, PhD, MD
Last reviewed/last updated: May 2024

Weill Cornell Medicine Neurological Surgery 525 East 68 Street, Box 99 New York, NY 10065 Phone: 866-426-7787