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What causes an anoxic brain injury?

Anoxia is a condition characterized by an absence of oxygen supply to an organ or a tissue. Oxygen is carried by blood cells to our organs and tissues. Anything that prevents our bodies from breathing in or supplying oxygen to our lungs interrupts the transfer of oxygen from our lungs to our blood, decreases the flow of blood or decreases the number of oxygen carrying cells to the brain can cause an anoxic injury. Carbon monoxide poisoning, drowning, choking, suffocation, head trauma, severe bleeding, drops in blood pressure and stroke are all examples of insults with the potential to cause an anoxic brain injury.
Anoxic brain injury usually occurs in the context of cardiac arrest and results from an insufficient blood supply to the brain. Under these conditions of insufficient oxygen the brain tissue suffers an irreversible damage. The brain is the most sensitive organ in the body to the shortage of oxygen. If the blood supply is not restored in quickly, the damage may becomes irreversible , and is equivalent to a stroke affecting the entire brain. If the heart rate and blood pressure are restored quickly enough (usually in less than 5 minutes) the damage the brain may be less severe.

An anoxic brain injury occurs when a brain injury or certain kinds of disease processes deprive the brain of oxygen. When this oxygen deprivation occurs, brain cells can start to die within five minutes. This causes a whole host of problems, including impairment of electrochemical impulse transmission. When electrochemical impulse transmission is disrupted, chemical messengers called neurotransmitters are affected. Neurotransmitters control a wide variety of significant physiological, cognitive, and emotional processes, so any disruption in their activity can have profound effects on a person.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.