What vascular disorders does a neurologist treat?
Vascular disorders, also called cerebrovascular diseases, include all the conditions that affect the flow of blood through your brain. Problems can develop in the vessels in your brain, or the carotid arteries that carry oxygen-rich blood into the brain.
Though strokes are the best-known cerebrovascular condition, other vascular disorders cause strokes. The most common vascular disorders include:
- Carotid stenosis - Carotid stenosis develops when fatty plaque builds up in a carotid artery, a condition called atherosclerosis. As the plaque enlarges, it narrows the artery and blocks blood flow to your brain. A severe blockage causes a transient ischemic attack or stroke.
- Brain aneurysm - A brain aneurysm occurs when a balloon-like bulge develops in an artery wall. As the area fills with blood and the wall gets thinner and weaker, the aneurysm can rupture. This is a medical emergency that may result in a stroke, coma, and death.
- Vascular malformation (arteriovenous malformation) - Arteries and veins normally connect with one another in networks formed by small vessels called capillaries. A vascular malformation develops when the arteries and veins connect in an abnormal way. The abnormal connections bypass the normal capillary bed and create a tangle of blood vessels that disrupts the normal blood flow. If the malformation bleeds out, it causes seizures and brain damage.
- Moyamoya disease - The cause of moyamoya disease remains unknown, but the condition’s impact is clear. Moyamoya disease causes progressive narrowing of the carotid arteries, gradually leading to an irreversible blockage.
What symptoms develop due to vascular disorders?
Symptoms seldom occur until an aneurysm or vascular malformation ruptures or the carotid arteries become significantly blocked.
When symptoms occur, you may experience one or more of the following:
- Severe headache
- Pain above or behind one eye
- Blurry or double vision
- Vision loss
- Muscle weakness
- Droopy eyelid
- Nausea and vomiting
- Difficulty speaking
- Memory loss
Vascular disorders can also cause a stroke, resulting in symptoms such as difficulty speaking, dizziness, and numbness or weakness of one side of your face, arm, or leg.
How are vascular disorders treated?
Treatment for vascular disorders includes medications, surgical intervention, or both. You may need medications to thin your blood, prevent clotting, lower high blood pressure, or reduce cholesterol levels.
Vascular disorders usually need surgery to close an aneurysm or remove malformations, plaque, and blood clots. Your provider may insert a stent to keep the carotid artery open or to keep blood out of an aneurysm.