Hypoglycemia, which is a complication of diabetes, is the medical term for dangerously low blood glucose. A stroke occurs when the blood supply to the brain is interrupted by a blocked or burst vessel in the brain. Strokes kill brain cells and cause permanent brain damage. While people with diabetes are at increased risk of having an actual stroke, the symptoms of hypoglycemia can also mimic those of a stroke. The term “hypoglycemic stroke” refers to the strokelike symptoms and brain damage resulting from severe hypoglycemia 3.**
Blood glucose levels that fall below 70 mg/dL indicate hypoglycemia. The condition is caused by certain medications prescribed to treat diabetes, failure to eat enough food or take medications as prescribed, and exercising vigorously without eating enough food. Hypoglycemia is also caused by liver disease, a pancreatic tumor that releases too much insulin and drinking alcohol. Some people without diabetes have idiopathic hypoglycemia, which does not have a known cause.
- Blood glucose levels that fall below 70 mg/dL indicate hypoglycemia.
- The condition is caused by certain medications prescribed to treat diabetes, failure to eat enough food or take medications as prescribed, and exercising vigorously without eating enough food.
Heart Racing & Dizziness After Eating
Stroke, which is also called a brain attack, prevents blood and oxygen from getting to the brain, which suffers permanent damage after a few seconds. An ischemic stroke occurs when a blood clot blocks a blood vessel that supplies blood to the brain. Clogged arteries also cause ischemic strokes. A hemorrhagic stroke results from a weak blood vessel in the brain that ruptures and leaks blood into the brain, which damages brain cells.
- Stroke, which is also called a brain attack, prevents blood and oxygen from getting to the brain, which suffers permanent damage after a few seconds.
- An ischemic stroke occurs when a blood clot blocks a blood vessel that supplies blood to the brain.
Insulin shock caused by hypoglycemia results in coma. Victims of a severe stroke may fall into a coma. Permanent damage to the nervous system, including the brain, can result from both conditions.
Strokelike Hypoglycemia Effects
When glucose levels fall below 18 mg/dL, a failure of brain energy can occur, which is confirmed with an electroencephalogram, or EEG, test to measure electrical activity in the brain. The death of brain neurons occurs, along with other permanent brain damage, when the brain’s electrical activity stops.
While hypoglycemic brain damage resembles that caused by ischemic stroke, there are differences, such as the lack of damage to the cerebellum and brainstem 3. According to research performed by Ronald N. Auer in 1986 and republished in the December 2004 issue of "Forensic Science International," hypoglycemia, like a stroke, is considered an attack or “insult” to the brain that kills brain cells 4.
Heart Racing & Dizziness After Eating
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Amphetamines & Stroke
Insulin Spikes & Dizziness
Causes of Temporary Leg Paralysis
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The Medical Conditions That Cause Weakness on the Left Side of the Body
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Low Blood Sugar in Non-Diabetics
- National Institutes of Health; Hypoglycemia; May 2010
- National Institutes of Health; Stroke; June 2010
- “Stroke”; Progress Review: Hypoglycemic Brain Damage; R.N. Auer; 1986
- "Forensic Science International"; Hypoglycemic Brain Damage; R.N. Auer; December 2004
- National Institutes of Health: EEG
- Garg L, Haleem A, Varade S, et al. Patent Foramen Ovale Closure in the Setting of Cryptogenic Stroke: A Meta-Analysis of Five Randomized Trials. J Stroke Cerebrovasc Dis. 2018 May 24. pii: S1052-3057(18)30223-4. doi: 10.1016/j.jstrokecerebrovasdis.2018.05.005. [Epub ahead of print]
- Mello S, Judge C Kelly R, Bradley D, Harbison J. A Systematic Review of the Causes and Management of Nonthrombotic Embolic Stroke of Tissue Origin. Stroke Res Treat. 2018 Apr 24;2018:8092862. doi: 10.1155/2018/8092862. eCollection 2018.
Gail Sessoms, a grant writer and nonprofit consultant, writes about nonprofit, small business and personal finance issues. She volunteers as a court-appointed child advocate, has a background in social services and writes about issues important to families. Sessoms holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in liberal studies.