Overview: Cerebrovascular disease is a group of conditions that affect blood circulation to the brain. A condition that can cause cerebrovascular disease is called atherosclerosis. This occurs when inflammation in some areas of the arteries of the brain couple with high cholesterol levels to cause the cholesterol to build up in a blood vessel to form a thick and waxy plaque. This plaque either limits or completely obstructs blood flow to the brain leading to stroke, transient ischemic attacks, dementia, and other health complications. The most common forms include cerebral thrombosis, cerebral embolism, and cerebral hemorrhage. Another form includes aneurysms, which is caused by a rise in blood pressure leading to reduction in blood flow.
- Depending on the form, location, and extent of cerebral tissue affected, symptoms may vary. General symptoms include paralysis and/or weakness on one side of the body.
- Medications can be taken to reduce the risk of stroke. These are blood platelet inhibitors that include aspirin, dipyridamole, ticloplidine, clopidogrel, and sulfinpyrazone.
- A carotid endarterectomy can be done to remove plaque to enable normal blood flow. This is a procedure in which an incision is made into the carotid artery with a dissection tool to remove excess plaque.
- A carotid angioplasty can also be done to flatten the plaque and reopen the artery. In this procedure, a balloon tipped catheter is stented inside the artery, and inflated and pressed against the plaque to flatten it.