The big vessels from the heart traveling to brain divide into smaller vessels inside the brain. The smaller vessels supply oxygen and other nutrients present in the blood to each and every brain cell for its proper functioning. However, this network of small blood vessels can get damaged or narrow as the person become old or in conditions such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes etc.
Small vessel damage can lead to inadequate supply of blood to the brain. It can produce harm to the brain cells. The damage can be either due to blockage or rupture of the blood vessel.Some people remain asymptomatic where as others may experience cognitive and motor impairment.
Symptoms Of Small Vessel Brain Disease
The symptoms can vary depending on the severity of damage to blood vessels and the area of brain affected. Patient with small vessel brain disease frequently suffers from thinking problems. It mainly develops as a person gets older. When the damage to the vessel is severe it can cause more serious condition called vascular dementia. Patients suffering from it have mild memory loss and his thinking ability is hampered. He is not able to concentrate or plan his task due to slowing of his memory.
Sudden change in mood is associated with small vessel brain disease. Patient feels depressed together with disturbance in his thinking ability. Patient often has uncontrolled laughing and crying spells. Mood swings, irritability, impatience are characteristic features. The symptoms are more prominent when they develop soon after a stroke caused due to damage to the small blood vessel. People suffering from stroke also suffer from difficulty in swallowing, speaking, moving limbs, paralysis of one side of body etc.
What Causes Small Vessel Disease In The Brain?
Small vessel brain disease is caused due to diminished supply of blood to the brain cells. Reduced or complete stoppage of blood flow eventually leads to death of brain cells in the affected area. It can occur due to number of reasons:
- Narrowing of tiny blood vessels in brain.
- Stoppage of blood flow to brain due to a clot inside the blood vessel which may result in stroke.
- Mini strokes caused due to multiple tiny damages in the blood vessel. They are called multi infarcts.
People at risk of small vessel brain disease are:
- Those having high blood pressure.
- People with high blood cholesterol.
- Obese persons.
- People having irregular heartbeats.
- Brain hemorrhage.
Treatment For Small Vessel Brain Disease
There is no cure for small vessel brain disease; however, if the condition is detected early there are good chances of preventing dementia and other problems. The aim of treatment is to address the risk factors such as hypertension, high cholesterol, diabetes so that some of the symptoms can be reversed.
Following a stroke, physiotherapy, speech therapy, etc will help the patient to regain some amount of lost function. Medications are prescribed to lower blood pressure, reduce cholesterol level, and prevent clots.
Adapting healthy lifestyle is essential for further deterioration of the condition.
- Patient should stop smoking and drinking alcohol.
- Eat foods that are not high in fats and simple sugar.
- Control diabetes by taking medications and exercising.
- Manage stress by practicing relaxation techniques such as yoga, meditation, exercise, etc.