Cerebrovascular disease is a major health burden in developed as well as developing countries all around the world. It is a medical term used for disorders of blood vessels of brain in which the blood supply to certain part of brain is hampered. The common type of cerebrovascular disease include; transient ischemic attack, stroke, cerebral thrombosis, cerebral hemorrhage, cerebral embolism and brain aneurysm and subarachnoid hemorrhage.
Usually the disease affects elderly people and those high risk groups such as diabetics and hypertensive individuals. High level of cholesterol leading to atherosclerosis of brain vessel, smoking, and people suffering from ischemic heart disease are vulnerable to suffer from cerebrovascular disease.
Weakness in limbs, difficulty in communication, severe headache, are primary indicating symptoms of this neurological condition. Cerebrovascular disease needs immediate medical attention as it can lead to paralysis and in some cases even death of the patient.
What Causes Cerebrovascular Disease?
Cerebrovascular disease as mentioned earlier is a condition resulting from restricted blood supply to the brain tissue. There are numerous causes that may cause cerebrovascular disease. The incidence of this condition is high in old aged people. However, it can also occur in middle age and young. The most common cause for developing this disease is atherosclerosis.
Increased cholesterol causes formation of plaques in the vessel. It narrows the vessel and compromises blood flow. The brain tissue starves when it does not get enough oxygen and glucose from the blood. The affected part of brain eventually dies. If the flow stops for seconds, it can lead to a condition called transient ischemic attack. A blood clot may develop in already narrow artery. This leads to formation of a thrombus.
When the entire blood vessel gets blocked it can give rise to thrombotic stroke. A clot may travel from other part of the body and block the blood flow in the brain. This is called embolic stroke. Thinning and bulging of brain vessel is called aneurysm of the brain vessel. The thin vessel may rupture at some point leading to hemorrhage. Several risk factors have been noted. They include:
- Old age
- Lack of exercise
- High cholesterol level in blood.
- Hormone replacement therapy increases the risk in people suffering from increased cholesterol and carotid artery disease.
Signs And Symptoms Of Cerebrovascular Disease
The symptoms of cerebrovascular disease are caused due to reduced supply of oxygen to brain as the blood flow from the vessel is obstructed or diminished. The signs and symptoms of cerebrovascular disease depend on the area of brain damage and the extent of damage. Following are general signs that may develop:
- Sudden excruciating headache.
- Weakness on one side of body.
- Paralysis of one or both the sides of body.
- Confused state of mind.
- Due to confusion patient loses ability to recognize objects, faces, place etc.
- Difficulty in swallowing
- Speech impairment
- Slurred speech
- Loss of balance
- Partial loss of vision
- Decreased sensation
- Loss of memory
- Loss of consciousness
- Coma in case of hemorrhagic stroke.
Diagnosis And Treatment Of Cerebrovascular Disease
Cerebrovascular disease can be diagnosed with the help of following:
- Clinical examination of the patient.
- Medical history.
- CT scan and MRI of brain.
- Cerebral angiography.
- ECG for detecting cardiac arrhythmias which increases the risk of embolic stroke.
Cerebrovascular disease needs to be treated urgently, because certain medicines if given within certain time will help in recovery process. It will also further reduce the progression. Usually patient needs to be hospitalized. In hemorrhagic cases patient must be assessed by neurosurgeon to review whether the clot needs to be removed so as to reduce pressure on the adjacent brain tissue.
In case if there is abnormality noted in the carotid artery, carotid angioplasty or stenting may be needed to increase the blood flow to brain. Even though patient survives from stroke, some amount of neurological deficit persists. After some days of recovery passive and active physiotherapy exercise is begun. This will help the muscles to strengthen so that they can function well.