Definition of Cerebral hypoxia

Reviewed on 6/3/2021

Cerebral hypoxia: a decrease in the amount of oxygen delivered to the brain. This can be due to a decreased amount of oxygen in the blood, a decrease in the pumping power of the heart, or any type of obstruction to blood flow. In mild cases, cerebral hypoxia causes poor judgment, inattentiveness, and problems with control of movement. In more serious cases, there is loss of breathing and coma, which can be fatal. There are multiple causes of cerebral hypoxia. Some of the more common causes include cardiac arrest, choking, stroke, low blood pressure, shock, drowning, drug overdose, paralysis of the breathing muscles in conditions such as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), strangulation, smoke inhalation, and carbon monoxide poisoning. Cerebral hypoxia can also occur at birth and lead to brain damage in the newborn.


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Longo, D.L., et al. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine 18th ed. New York: McGraw-Hill Professional, 2011.

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