Cerebrovascular diseases (CVDs) cause an estimated 17 million deaths worldwide each year, accounting for one-third of deaths. Middle-aged adults account for more than one-third of these deaths.
The leading cause of death in adult men and women of developed nations like the U.S. is heart disease followed by stroke.
Here’s what you need to know about cerebrovascular disease, including risk factors, causes, and treatment:
What is Cerebrovascular Disease?
The term cerebrovascular consists of “Cerebro,” which refers to the large part of the brain, and “vascular,” which means vessels and arteries. The word cerebrovascular relates to blood flow within the brain.
Cerebrovascular diseases (CVDs) include strokes and problems with blood flow and blood vessels in the brain (cerebral vasospasm). Cerebrovascular disease can occur in many forms, including cerebral ischemia, intracranial haemorrhage, subarachnoid haemorrhage, carotid artery stenosis/occlusion, and cerebral vasospasm.
Cerebrovascular disease includes stroke, carotid stenosis, vertebral stenosis, intracranial stenosis, aneurysms, and vascular malformations.
What are the Symptoms of Cerebrovascular Diseases?
Symptoms of cerebrovascular disease vary depending on where a blockage occurs and its effect on the brain.
Symptoms may vary from one event to another, but these are the common symptoms:
- Loss of balance.
- Feeling dizzy, nauseous, or vomiting.
- A feeling of confusion, disorientation, or forgetfulness.
- Communication difficulties, including slurred speech.
- Inability to comprehend.
- There is numbness or weakness on one side of your arm, leg, or face.
- An unusually intense headache.
- Vision loss on one side.
As an aid in recognizing stroke warning signs and acting upon them swiftly, the American Stroke Association encourages people to become familiar with the F.A.S.T. acronym:
- Face: Is one side of the face drooping?
- Arm: Does one arm drift downward when both are held out?
- Speech: Are their words slurred or abnormal?
- Time: Call 911 immediately if any of these symptoms appear.
Anyone who displays symptoms of a cerebrovascular attack should seek immediate medical attention since there can be long-term consequences, including dementia and paralysis.
What Causes Cerebrovascular Diseases?
Several factors contribute to the development of cerebrovascular disease.
Blood vessels in the brain may not deliver sufficient blood to the area they serve if damaged. Brain cells start to die without oxygen when there is insufficient blood flow to the brain.
There is no way to reverse brain damage. A person’s chance of surviving and reducing their risk of long-term brain damage depends on receiving emergency help.
The primary cause of cerebrovascular disease is atherosclerosis. In this condition, high cholesterol levels, combined with inflammation in the brain’s arteries, cause cholesterol to form a thick, waxy plaque that narrows or blocks blood vessels.
A cerebrovascular attack, such as a stroke or TIA, can be caused by this plaque, limiting or completely blocking the brain’s blood flow.
What are the Risk Factors?
There are several risk factors associated with cerebrovascular disease in addition to the controllable causes, including:
People who have a history of cerebrovascular disease and related conditions are more likely to get it.
Women are more likely than men to develop a brain aneurysm and cerebrovascular haemorrhage.
People of African descent are at greater risk of cerebrovascular disease due to higher blood pressure.
How is Cerebrovascular Disease Diagnosed?
A doctor can order several tests to diagnose cerebrovascular disorders. A cerebral angiogram is one of these tests. The test consists of taking images of how the blood flows through the arteries in the neck and brain. The doctor is likely to order imaging tests such as an MRI or CT scan.
How is Cerebrovascular Disease Treated?
It is crucial to treat a cerebrovascular event as soon as possible. An early diagnosis and treatment are vital to permanent brain damage.
In general, treatment for a cerebrovascular event depends on the type of event. The following are treatment options for cerebrovascular disease:
- Carotid Artery Surgery
- Computer Assisted Surgery (CAS)
- Encephaloduroarteriosynangiosis (EDAS)
- Endovascular Aneurysm Treatment
- Endovascular Neurosurgery
- Gamma Knife Radiosurgery
- Aneurysm Clipping
In rehabilitation, patients can regain lost skills they may have lost when their brains were damaged due to reduced blood flow or learn new skills.
Medical doctors specializing in physical medicine and rehabilitation (PM&R) will supervise a team that includes physiotherapists, occupational therapists, and speech therapists.
As a result of their work, stroke patients can return to work and drive, get the right home equipment, and treat post-stroke pain and spasticity.
Prevention of Cerebrovascular Disease
Even though there is no way to prevent cerebrovascular disorders, it is possible to avoid cerebrovascular stenosis and aneurysms effectively:
- Eat healthily: Reduce your trans and saturated fat consumption.
- Stop smoking: There are enough reasons to encourage you to quit.
- Keep an eye on your health: if you are experiencing symptoms like chest pain, fatigue, shortness of breath, or other signs, go to the doctor right away. It’s always better to diagnose and treat illness early.
- Follow the directions on your medication: Always follow the doctors’ orders on your prescription.
- Exercise regularly: Staying fit and maintaining a healthy weight is good for your heart and overall health.
Cerebrovascular disease is a dangerous and potentially lethal condition. It is essential to go to the doctor when you experience any of the symptoms mentioned earlier or see your doctor for any other health issue.
A stroke does not carry all the consequences. It is what happens afterwards. You have a better chance of recovering if you receive treatment quickly.
The signs of a stroke are often subtle, confusing, or easily mistaken for other symptoms. Pay attention to signs that are not typical but that the doctor is concerned about, such as sudden weakness or loss of coordination or a new or worsening headache.
If you already know someone with signs of stroke, call 911 immediately.