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Cerebrovascular disease is an overarching term for conditions that affect the blood vessels (arteries and veins) in your brain. The types of conditions, risks, and outcomes of cerebrovascular complications can vary, but one thing holds true: Cerebrovascular health is essential to overall health.  

Cerebrovascular disease can affect individuals of any race, age, or sex. However, some factors put people at higher risk. Find out about the risks and symptoms of cerebrovascular disease, and learn how Endeavor Health Neurosciences Institute’s Advanced Neurosciences Center can help treat these conditions.   

What is cerebrovascular disease?

Cerebrovascular disease is related to blood flow in the brain. It can be very serious and can lead to stroke, aneurysms, or other conditions that impair brain function. The most common type of cerebrovascular disease is stroke: Ischemic stroke is caused by a reduction in blood flow in the brain, and hemorrhagic stroke is caused by bleeding in the brain.

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Types of cerebrovascular disease

Many conditions can be a part of cerebrovascular disease, including the following:  

  • Stroke
  • Brain aneurysms
  • Transient ischemic attacks, or TIAs (also known as mini-strokes)
  • Moyamoya disease
  • Arteriovenous malformations (AVMs)
  • Brain hemorrhage
  • Carotid artery disease

Each of these conditions is serious. If you have signs of cerebrovascular disease, it’s imperative to seek a doctor’s help right away.  

Symptoms of cerebrovascular disease

Symptoms of cerebrovascular disease vary depending on the location of the blockage in the brain, but common symptoms include: 

  • Weakness or paralysis on one side of your body
  • Severe and sudden headache
  • Vision changes
  • Loss of balance and coordination
  • Trouble speaking and understanding speech
  • Confusion

If you or a loved one are experiencing any of these symptoms, seek immediate emergency medical attention. In an emergency, always call 911. It is essential for survival and negating long-term effects. 

Diagnosis for cerebrovascular disease

Cerebrovascular disease is a medical emergency, so a rapid diagnosis is essential. A doctor will ask about medical history and perform a physical exam. They will quickly assess the following: 

  • Speech fluency
  • Balance
  • Mental status
  • Eye movement
  • Weakness or paralysis

If your doctor suspects cerebrovascular disease, they may order tests such as: 

  • Electrocardiogram (EKG)
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
  • Spinal tap
  • Cerebral angiography
  • CT angiography

These tests will also help pinpoint the cause of cerebrovascular disease.  

Causes of cerebrovascular disease

Cerebrovascular disease can develop for many reasons, including the following: 

  • A blood clot or thrombosis forms in the brain (this usually occurs if blood vessels are narrow)
  • A traveling blood clot or embolism moves from another part of the body into the brain
  • Atherosclerosis, or plaque buildup, in the arteries of the brain
  • Hemorrhage, or blood vessel rupture (this usually happens in people with uncontrolled high blood pressure)
  • Traumatic brain injury (TBI), typically from a blow to the head
  • Vascular malformations (typically when arteries and veins develop abnormally in utero)

Contributing risk factors for cerebrovascular disease

You are at a higher risk for cerebrovascular disease if you have diabetes, high blood pressure, or high cholesterol. There are many things you can do to lower your risk:

  • Quit smoking
  • Limit alcohol intake
  • Eat a healthy diet low in salt, fat, and calories
  • Exercise to maintain a healthy weight
  • Take your medications to control high blood pressure or heart arrhythmia

Talk to your doctor if you have any of these risk factors. 

Treatment for cerebrovascular disease

If you have been diagnosed with cerebrovascular disease, treatment depends on your specific condition and circumstances. The primary goal is to limit damage to the brain, so treatments should begin as soon as possible. At the Advanced Neurosciences Center, our specialists have extensive experience in cerebrovascular disease and can help determine the treatment that provides the best possible outcomes. 

Depending on your condition, you could be treated with blood thinners, and cholesterol-lowering and blood pressure medications.  

For cases with a severe blockage, surgery may be required to improve blood flow, including carotid stenting, carotid angioplasty, carotid endarterectomy, or catheter-directed mechanical thrombectomy. At the Advanced Neurosciences Center, we use the most innovative, minimally invasive technologies for cerebrovascular surgical procedures. 

The Advanced Neurosciences Center is a center for cerebrovascular disease. We understand the importance of early diagnosis and treatment to prevent long-term complications. We provide comprehensive and personalized care for even the most complex cases, so that you can live a full life. Your team is ready for you.  

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