3 Vascular Abnormalities Associated With Increased Cerebrovascular Incidents

Cerebrovascular incidents, such as stroke, are most often associated with older people because the risk of having a stroke generally increases as you age. However, several vascular abnormalities can drastically increase your risk of stroke or other cerebrovascular incidents, even at a younger age.  

Circle Of Willis Abnormalities

The Circle of Willis is a ring of blood vessels located in the brain. Instances of abnormalities are typically congenital and in many cases, abnormalities go unnoticed until a problem develops. A person with abnormalities may be missing part of the circle or one branch of the circle may be narrowed. Abnormalities in the circle are actually common. When abnormalities are mild, blood simply flows through other parts of the circle. If an obstruction occurs within certain branches of the Circle of Willis, there may not be a way for the blood to be rerouted by the brain, leading to an ischemic stroke. The Circle of Willis is also a common site for aneurysms to occur.

Carotid Stenosis

Carotid stenosis is the narrowing of the major blood vessel leading to the brain. Much like other vascular abnormalities, the condition can be present at birth. However, it is possible to experience narrowing of the carotid artery over time. Ultrasound is an excellent and inexpensive tool in determining blood flow through the carotid artery. In rare cases, a person may have a congenital defect where the carotid artery is wrapped around a small portion of the skull. When the person moves their neck in a certain way, it causes occlusion of the carotid artery.

Some indications of abnormalities related to the carotid artery are easily fainting or feeling dizzy when turning your head or touching your head to your left shoulder. Under normal circumstances, these movements are not enough to obstruct blood flow through the carotid artery. When a stroke is caused by problems with the carotid artery, they are more likely to cause significant damage because it is the only blood vessel carrying blood to the brain.

Arteriovenous Malformation

Arteriovenous malformation (AVM) causes blood from the arteries to be dumped directly into veins, increasing the likelihood of a hemorrhagic stroke. Since the risk of bleeding is cumulative, the longer a person has AVM, the greater their risk of hemorrhaging. The presence of AVM may not be apparent until the first instance of bleeding occurs. Treatment of AVM consists of surgical and non-surgical methods of obstructing abnormal blood flow in the brain. The appropriate type of treatment will depend on the extent of AVM and which brain structures are affected. When critical areas of the brain are affected by AVM, it is best treated with a non-surgical approach to minimize the risk of brain damage and bleeding from surgery.

Vascular abnormalities are a rare, but significant risk factor for cerebrovascular incidents. With improved techniques and access to diagnostic imaging, such as ultrasound and MRI, more incidents are being identified early, when abnormalities are easier to treat. For further assistance, contact local brain condition treatment professionals.