Cerebrovascular disease is a group of brain dysfunctions which are related to disease of blood vessels supplying oxygen rich blood to the brain. It is particularly dangerous becuase it has no symptoms, yet can lead to a stroke.
Types of Cerebrovascular Diseases
Cerebrovascular diseases can be classified into three different types:
1.Ischemic Stroke: This stroke is caused due to clogging by fatty deposits called plaque on the walls of arteries which leads to blood clots for which there are two types:
a. Cerebral Thrombus: A clot that stays in place in the brain.
b. Cerebral Embolism: A clot that breaks loose and moves to the brain through the blood stream.
Other important causes of cerebral embolism include Arrhythmia (irregular heart rhythms), Endocarditis (infection of inner lining of heart), an abnormal heart valve and a mechanical heart valve. Patients with defective heart valves and mechanical heart valves are are often prescribed blood thinners (2) & (4).
2. Hemorrhagic Stroke: When small blood vessels in the brain become weak and burst, it leads to bleeding in the brain. The flow of blood after the rupture of blood vessels damages the brain cells (2). A hemorrhagic stroke can be further subdivided into two types:
a. Subarachnoid Hemorrhage: When the blood flows in the space between the brain and the skull.
b. Intracerebral Hemorrhage: This type occurs when an artery in the brain ruptures spilling blood into the surrounding brain tissue (5).
3. Transient Ischemic Attack (TIA): This is a temporary cerebrovascular event caused by a temporarily blockage of an artery and leaves no permanent damage (3).
Symptoms of Cerebrovascular Disease
According to the National Stroke Association (1999), strokes more often occur abruptly, with the following symptoms which often develop suddenly:
• Difficulty standing or walking, dizziness, loss of balance, loss of coordination
• Numbness in the face, arm or leg weakness, particularly on one side of the body
• Confusion, difficulty speaking or understanding
• Vision difficulty in one or both eyes
• Severe headaches that have no known cause
Other important, but less common stroke symptoms include:
• Nausea, fever, and vomiting that is different from a viral illness in the speed of onset (begins in minutes or hours instead of over several days)
• Carotid artery Effects retina, cerebral hemisphere, or both.
• Retinal Transient blackouts; the sense of a shade pulled over the eyes.
• Cerebral Contralateral (opposite sided) paralysis of a single body part; paralysis of one side of the body; localized tingling, numbness; hemianopic visual loss; aphasia (loss of speech); rare loss of consciousness.
• Vertebrobasilar Bilateral visual disturbance including dim, gray, or blurred vision or temporary total blindness; diplopia (double vision).
• Labyrinth/medulla Vertigo; unsteadiness; nausea; vomiting.
• Brainstem Slurring dysarthria (tongue weakness causing impaired speech); dysphagia (difficulty swallowing); numbness, weakness; all four limb paresthesia; drop attacks from sudden loss of postural tone are basilar in origin; a vertebrobasilar artery occlusion episode causes symptoms to be induced by abrupt position changes.
• Subclavian Steal syndrome Symptoms of claudication (lameness or limping) of an exercised arm with symptoms of vertebrobasilar insufficiency described above.