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29th January, 20212 min read

Cerebral venous thrombosis

Medical reviewer: Dr Ann Nainan
Author: Dr Lauretta Ihonor
Last reviewed: 08/12/2020
Medically reviewed

All of Healthily's articles undergo medical safety checks to verify that the information is medically safe. View more details in our safety page, or read our editorial policy.

Cerebral venous thrombosis is a blood clot in a vein in your brain, which can lead to a stroke.

It’s more likely to happen if you have an increased risk of getting blood clots, such as if you’re pregnant, have certain genetic conditions or are taking medicines like oral contraceptives.

It’s also more common if you’re dehydrated or have widespread cancer.

If you have cerebral venous thrombosis, you may develop a headache that can sometimes feel really bad. For some people, this headache may come on gradually or suddenly (like you’ve been hit in the head).

You may also:

  • feel or be sick
  • have headaches
  • have fits
  • notice muscle weakness that affects different parts of your body, and struggle to speak or move
  • faint or feel dizzy
  • feel confused

How is cerebral venous thrombosis diagnosed and treated?

Cerebral venous thrombosis is an emergency condition that needs urgent medical treatment. If you think you have it, call an ambulance immediately. If you can’t, ask someone nearby to call one for you.

A doctor will usually perform imaging tests, like a CT or MRI scan to diagnose cerebral venous thrombosis. You may also need blood tests to check if your blood is clotting normally.

If you have cerebral venous thrombosis, you’ll typically be treated in the same way as someone who has had a stroke. More specifically, you may be given medication to thin your blood and medication for treating fits, if you’ve had one.

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