Cerebrovascular diseases

    Last updated date: 25-Aug-2023

    Originally Written in English

    Cerebrovascular diseases

    Cerebrovascular diseases

    Cerebrovascular disease is a term that encompasses a variety of diseases, ailments, and disorders affecting the brain's blood flow and blood vessels. Brain damage can occur if the brain cells are deprived of sufficient oxygen due to a blockage, deformity, or hemorrhage.

    Generally, cerebrovascular diseases are among the leading cause of death in both children and adults. On the other hand, you can take the necessary steps to decrease the chances of getting the disease. 


    Types of Cerebrovascular Diseases

    The cerebrovascular diseases come in a variety of forms, including:

    • Ischemic stroke

    This can develop if atherosclerotic plaque or blood clot stops a blood vessel feeding blood to the brain. A blood clot, or thrombus, can thus occur in an already narrowed artery. In addition, a stroke results when the brain cells die due to a lack of blood flow.

    • Embolism

    The most prevalent form of ischemic stroke is embolic stroke. When a clot from another part of the body breaks off and goes to the brain, it blocks the small artery. Arrhythmias, the conditions that produce an abnormal heart rhythm, increase the risk of developing an embolism. 

    Ischemic stroke can be caused by a tear within the lining of the carotid artery in the neck. This tear allows blood to travel between the carotid artery's layers, narrowing it and limiting blood flow towards the brain. 

    • Hemorrhagic stroke 

    Hemorrhagic stroke develops when the blood vessel in the brain grow weaker and bursts, allowing blood to seep inside the brain. The seeping blood exerts pressure on the tissue inside the brain, causing edema and brain tissue damage. The surrounding areas of the brain may also lose their oxygen-rich blood supply as a result of the hemorrhage. 

    • A cerebral aneurysm or subarachnoid hemorrhage 

    These may occur due to structural issues in the brain's blood vessels. An aneurysm is a weakened area of the artery wall that could rupture and cause bleeding. If a blood artery bursts and bleeds among two membranes near the brain, subarachnoid hemorrhage occurs. The leakage of blood has the potential to harm brain cells.


    Signs and Symptoms of Cerebrovascular Diseases 

    Cerebrovascular diseases symptoms vary based on where the blockage is located and how it affects brain tissue. Various events can have different consequences; however, the following are prevalent symptoms; 

    • A chronic headache that develops suddenly 
    • Hemiplegia, the paralysis of a single section of the body.
    • Hemiparesis, a condition that causes weakness in one part of the body.
    • Confusion
    • Communication difficulties, such as slurred speech
    • Deterioration of vision, especially one side
    • Balance loss 
    • Unconsciousness 

    Rapid onset of symptoms characterizes stroke, while functional and survival results are time-dependent. Use the FAST acronym to help you recognize the warning stroke signs; 

    • Facial drooping 
    • Arm weakness
    • Speech difficulty 
    • Time to dial 911


    Causes of Cerebrovascular Diseases 

    A number of factors can cause cerebrovascular diseases. If the blood vessel within the brain is damaged, it won’t provide sufficient blood to the brain area it feeds. The absence of blood obstructs the supply of enough oxygen to the brain cells, which causes them to die. 

    Normally, damage to the brain is permanent. Emergency assistance is critical in reducing the likelihood of long-term damage to the brain and increasing a person's chances of survival. 

    Cerebrovascular diseases are mostly caused by atherosclerosis. This happens if high levels of cholesterol combine with inflammation in the brain's arteries. As a result, it causes cholesterol to form a waxy and thick plaque that narrows down or blocks blood supply. This plaque can restrict or stop blood from flowing towards the brain, resulting in a cerebrovascular event, including a stroke or transient ischemic attack (TIA). 


    Cerebrovascular Diseases Risk Factors 

    The most prevalent form of cerebrovascular attack is a stroke. Stroke risk rises with age, particularly when a person or a close relative has already experienced a cerebrovascular event. Between the ages of 55 and 85, this risk doubles at least every ten years. 

    A stroke, on the other hand, can strike at any age, including infancy. Stroke and other types of cerebrovascular diseases can occur due to a number of factors, including; 

    • Hypertension, blood pressure of 130/80 mm Hg or greater.
    • Obesity 
    • Smoking 
    • A bad diet and a lack of physical activity
    • Diabetes
    • 240 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dl) or even more cholesterol levels in the blood


    Cerebrovascular Diseases Diagnosis 

    Cerebrovascular Diseases Diagnosis

    A cerebrovascular incident is considered a medical emergency. As such, anyone who notices the symptoms should call 911 for more assistance. The importance of early detection in preventing brain damage cannot be overstated. 

    A physician or neurosurgeon will inquire about the patient's medical history and check for precise motor, neurological, and sensory problems, such as; 

    • Vision or visual field changes
    • Reflexes that are decreased or altered
    • Aberrant eye motions
    • Muscle wasting
    • Reduced sensation

    A vascular abnormality, including a blood artery or a defect blood clot, can be detected with a vertebral angiogram, cerebral angiography, or carotid angiogram. Dye injection into the arteries exposes any blood clots and allows CT or MRI imaging to show their size and form. 

    Since it can differentiate between bone, blood, and brain tissue, a CAT scan can aid in the diagnosis and detection of hemorrhagic strokes. Nevertheless, it doesn’t usually detect damage, particularly in the early phases of an ischemic stroke. 

    In addition, even early-stage strokes can be detected with an MRI scan. A cardiac arrhythmia (a risk factor for embolic strokes) can be detected by an electrocardiogram (EKG or ECG). 


    Cerebrovascular Diseases Treatment 

    The doctor may suggest a number of treatment options, including medication, lifestyle modifications, rehabilitation, and surgery. This generally depends on the severity and type of cerebrovascular disease. 


    Some medications that can help minimize the risk of significant cerebrovascular diseases complication are; 

    • Anticoagulants: To lower the chance of blood clots, the doctor can prescribe a blood thinner, including aspirin.
    • Blood pressure drugs: Using medications like diuretics, beta-blockers, ACE inhibitors, and other blood pressure drugs minimizes the risk of bleeding. 
    • Cholesterol-lowering drugs: These include statins to help prevent future plaque development within the arteries, which can lead to stenosis and blood clotting.


    Cerebral angioplasty:

    The doctor can recommend minimally invasive treatment alternatives, also referred to as neuro-interventional or neuroradiological treatments. This, however, depends on the aneurysm malformation, location, or narrowing due to stenosis. 

    During treatment, the doctor will locate the malformation, aneurysm, or stenosis by injecting a specific dye to help provide a clear image of the cerebrovascular system on the X-ray. A balloon can be used to expand a narrowed artery in situations of cerebrovascular stenosis. The implantation of a stent will follow this to maintain the artery open and avoid clotting.



    Since any surgical procedure on the brain or near blood arteries is naturally dangerous, open neurosurgery is usually reserved for specific situations. This can include a case where there is a current leakage or hemorrhaging or when more severe symptoms develop but cannot be managed using a cerebral angiography. 

    Surgical clipping, to cut off the blood flow to the afflicted area, is used to treat most aneurysms and abnormalities that need surgery. If clipping isn't possible or the artery is damaged, bypass surgery may be necessary. 


    Patients may undergo temporary or permanent incapacity as a result of a cerebrovascular accident. This can cause lasting brain damage. As a result, these patients may need a variety of rehabilitative and supportive therapies in order to maintain as many functions as feasible.

    These could include the following;

    • Physical therapy: This helps people regain their flexibility, mobility, and limb function.
    • Speech therapy: Following a stroke or a cerebrovascular event, speech therapy might help the patients speak more clearly and restore speech. 
    • Occupational therapy: This can assist a person in gaining access to resources that will enable them to resume their employment and day-to-day life. 
    • Psychological therapy: A physical disability can result in unforeseen emotional demands that necessitate extensive retraining. If a person feels overwhelmed following a cerebrovascular event, they may benefit from seeing a psychologist, psychiatrist, or a counselor.


    Cerebrovascular Diseases Prevention 

    The following are some measures that can help lower the risk of cerebrovascular diseases:

    • Quit smoking 
    • Opting for about 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity per week 
    • Consuming a healthy, balanced diet, including the DASH diet
    • Keeping a healthy body weight 
    • Use of drugs and diet to control blood cholesterol and blood pressure if necessary.



    Cerebrovascular diseases refer to a group of disorders that alter blood flow in the brain. The functions of the brain can be temporarily or permanently impaired as a result of this change in blood flow.

    In addition, cerebrovascular diseases can kill you or leave you disabled for a long time. Some patients, on the other hand, will recover successfully. The best approaches to enhance a person’s perspective with cerebrovascular illness are prompt treatment and lifestyle changes that decrease the chance of stroke.