What Is an MCA Stroke?

Updated February 16, 2018

The MCA, or middle cerebral artery, is the carotid artery's largest branch. During an MCA stroke, the MCA becomes blocked and blood flow to parts of the brain is restricted or stopped altogether. Like all strokes, MCA stroke is a medical emergency.


According to Washington University's Internet Stroke Center and the National Cardiovascular Data Registry, MCA strokes are the most frequent stroke type.

Risk Factors

People with a family history of stroke, hypertension, heart disease (especially atrial fibrillation), and diabetes are at an increased risk for stroke. Age and tobacco use also increase the risk of stroke.


Stroke symptoms can include facial numbness, vision changes, trouble speaking, confusion, loss of balance and severe headache. Stroke symptoms may vary based on where in the MCA the blockage is located.


MCA strokes can cause permanent numbness, vision changes, speech problems and attention problems. Immediate medical treatment may reduce the risk of permanent damage.

After Care

MCA stroke victims may require blood-thinning medication and rehabilitative therapy. Lifestyle changes and home modifications, such as the installation of ramps, might also be necessary.

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Writing professionally since 2008, Michelle Miley specializes in home and garden topics but frequently pens career, style and marketing pieces. Her essays have been used on college entrance exams and she has more than 4,000 publishing credits. She holds an Associate of Applied Science in accounting, having graduated summa cum laude.