Lacunar infarction: What is it? Symptoms, Causes, Risk Factors, Diagnosis and Treatment

It is a type of stroke that occurs when one of the arteries that supply blood to the brain is blocked.

Strokes caused by blockages in the blood vessels inside the brain are called ischemic strokes.

Lacunar stroke is a type of ischemic stroke that occurs when blood flow to one of the small arteries deep in the brain is blocked.

According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), lacunar stroke accounts for approximately one-fifth of all strokes.

Any attack is dangerous because the brain cells are deprived of oxygen and begin to die in minutes.

What are the symptoms of a lacunar stroke?

The symptoms of stroke usually appear suddenly and without warning.

Signs of a lacunar stroke may include:


  • Talk dragged.
  • Inability to raise an arm.
  • Numbness, often on only one side of the body.
  • Difficulty walking or moving the arms.
  • Confusion.
  • Memory problems.
  • Fight to speak or understand spoken language.
  • Headache.
  • Loss of consciousness or coma

As the brain cells die, the functions controlled by that brain area are affected. These symptoms may vary depending on the location of the stroke.

What causes lacunar infarction?

Lacunar stroke is caused by a lack of blood flow in the smaller arteries that supply deep brain structures.

The most critical risk factor for the development of lacunar stroke is chronic high blood pressure. The condition can cause the arteries to narrow.

This makes it easier for cholesterol plaques or blood clots to block blood flow to deep brain tissues.

Who is at risk for a lacunar infarction?

The risk of lacunar stroke increases with age. People at risk include chronic high blood pressure, heart disease, or diabetes.

African Americans, Hispanics, and people with a family history of stroke are also at greater risk than other groups.

Other factors that increase the likelihood of lacunar stroke include:

  • Smoking or being exposed to secondhand smoke.
  • Alcohol.
  • Drugs abuse.
  • The pregnancy.
  • Use of contraceptive pills.
  • Sedentary lifestyle
  • Poor diet.
  • High cholesterol.
  • Obstructive sleep apnea.

Annual physicals are necessary to detect health problems, including high cholesterol and obstructive sleep apnea.


Emergency treatment is necessary for any stroke, so the diagnosis is urgent. Your doctor can take your blood pressure and ask about your symptoms.

A detailed neurological examination will be used to see if there is damage to the nerve pathways throughout the body.

If your symptoms are consistent with a stroke, rapid diagnostic tests will probably include a CT scan or an MRI to take detailed pictures of your brain.

A Doppler ultrasound can also be used. This will measure the amount of blood that flows through your arteries and veins.

Tests of cardiac function can be requested, such as electrocardiogram and echocardiogram. You can also administer kidney and liver function tests and several blood tests.


If you have a lacunar stroke, early treatment increases your chances of survival and can prevent further damage.

You will probably be given aspirin once you get to the emergency room. This reduces the risk of having another stroke.

Supportive measures may be needed to help your breathing and heart function. You can receive oral or intravenous medications to remove clots.

In extreme circumstances, a doctor can administer medications directly into the brain.

Lacunar stroke can cause brain damage. Depending on how badly the underlying structures are damaged, you may not be able to take care of yourself after a stroke.

Recovery varies for each person and depends on the severity of the stroke.

Some patients with lacunar stroke transition from the hospital to a rehabilitation center or nursing home, at least for a short period.

Because of brain damage, stroke patients often have to relearn skills and regain strength. This can take weeks, months, or years.

Most patients with stroke require long-term treatment. This may include medications to treat high blood pressure, diabetes, or high cholesterol.

After a lacunar attack, some patients also require:

  • Physiotherapy to restore function.
  • Occupational therapy to improve the skills necessary for daily life.
  • Speech therapy to improve language skills.

What is the long-term perspective?

Quality of life after lacunar stroke depends on many factors, including age and how quickly treatment began after they started.

Having a lacunar stroke increases the risk of subsequent strokes, so regular medical care is critical.


Lacunar stroke is a life-threatening emergency.

Some risk factors such as aging and family history are beyond your control, but certain lifestyle behaviors can influence risk.

Maintain a healthy diet. Exercise regularly for at least 30 minutes most days of the week. Together, these habits can help reduce having a lacunar stroke.

If you have high blood pressure, heart disease, or diabetes, consult your doctor regularly. Strive to keep under control any of these conditions you may have.

Do not smoke and, most importantly, seek medical attention at the first sign of stroke.

Every second matters; consult your doctor regularly if you have high blood pressure, heart disease, or diabetes.