What are cerebrovascular diseases?

 The word cerebrovascular is a combination of two words, that is “cerebro” and “vascular”. “Cerebro” refers to the entire part of the brain, while “vascular” refers to the blood vessels that supply blood to the brain which are arteries and veins. So, it can be understood that the word cerebrovascular refers to the blood flow in the brain. In this DoctorOnCall article, we will discuss more about cerebrovascular disease. Generally, cerebrovascular disease refers to the disorders in which some area of the brain is being affected temporarily or permanently either by bleeding or ischemia and involving one or more of the cerebral blood vessels in the pathological process. Cerebrovascular diseases can be fatal that include disorders such as stroke, stenosis of the carotid vessels, vertebral stenosis and intracranial stenosis, aneurysms, and malformations of the vascular. Some conditions such as vessel narrowing (stenosis), clot formation (thrombosis), blockage (embolism), or blood vessels rupture (hemorrhage) can result in the restriction of blood flow in the brain. As a result, it will come up with insufficient blood flow (ischemia) that will affect the brain tissue and may cause a stroke.

Stroke is defined by the loss of neurological function because of an abrupt interruption of continuous blood flow to the brain. It can be caused by a blockage, that will lead to the more common ischemic stroke, or by bleeding in the brain, that will lead to the more deadly hemorrhagic stroke. Statistics show that ischemic stroke contributes approximately 80 percent of all stroke cases while stroke can occur suddenly, sometimes with little or no alarming symptoms, and the results can be harmful to ourselves. Although strokes are more common in senior citizens, they can occur at any age. There are several precaution steps that we can take in action in order to prevent and reduce the disability and death that may be caused by the disease. It includes stopping smoking, controlling our blood pressure, blood sugar and blood cholesterol levels, as well as always being physically active by always doing some exercises.

Carotid stenosis is usually asymptomatic. Our brain was supplied with oxygen-rich blood by the carotid arteries. Continuous build up of fat and cholesterol will form a plaque that later will block the internal carotid arteries. The process is known as atherosclerosis. If the blockage is persistent and becomes more severe, it will later be called carotid stenosis which may cause the transient ischemic attack. Carotid stenosis can be detected through an abnormal sound called a bruit when a doctor is doing the physical examination and listening to the carotid arteries using a stethoscope. The doctor will usually conduct a thorough physical examination first in order to detect some specific neurological motor and sensory deficits that can give hints about the extent and location of the blockage. If the doctors suspect that there is some stenosis in the brain, then it will be recommended to do diagnostic tests such as Doppler ultrasound, carotid duplex or cerebral angiography.

A cerebral aneurysm refers to a bulging or ballooning out of part of the blood vessel wall that results from the weakening of the blood vessels in the brain. Development of aneurysms usually occurred at the point where a blood vessel branches, because that specific point is structurally more exposed. Cerebral aneurysms can result from congenital defects or from other situations such as high blood pressure, atherosclerosis (the accumulation of fatty deposits in the arteries), or head trauma. Many people who were diagnosed with the disorder will have some or all of these alarming signs that are localized headache, nausea and vomiting, stiffness of the neck, vision became blurred or double, more sensitive towards light (photophobia) or loss of sensation. Others may have the following symptoms that may be the possible signs of an aneurysm such as cranial nerve palsy, dilation of the pupils, vision became double, pain felt behind and above the eye and headache that can be localized.

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