Neurovascular Diseases That Cause A Stroke

Neurovascular diseases affect blood vessels that deliver oxygen to the brain. The most serious is stroke, which can cause life-changing brain damage within minutes. Specialized care from stroke experts at Henry Ford Health helps many people avoid this medical emergency. Our personalized approach ensures you receive the treatments that are best for your unique needs.

How Do Neurovascular Diseases Cause Stroke?

Neurovascular diseases cause narrowing and weakening of the arteries that supply the brain with blood and oxygen. These conditions include:

Aneurysm

An aneurysm starts as a weak spot in a blood vessel wall. Pressure from the force of blood flow causes the area to bulge and fill with blood. Over time, the blood vessel weakens and may tear (burst or rupture), causing a life-threatening hemorrhagic stroke.

You may be at risk for an aneurysm if you:

  • Are between 30 and 60 years old
  • Use tobacco regularly
  • Drink two or more alcoholic beverages per day
  • Have high blood pressure
  • Abuse drugs, including cocaine, which causes inflammation in the blood vessel walls
  • Have a first-degree relative with a prior burst brain aneursym

Certain medical conditions also raise your risk of hemorrhage, including:

  • Arteriovenous malformation, an abnormal connection between two arteries in the brain
  • Connective tissue disorders, such as Ehlers-Danlos syndrome and fibromuscular dysplasia, which can weaken blood vessel walls
  • Polycystic kidney disease, which typically causes high blood pressure

Brain artery disease

Your carotid arteries are on the sides of your neck. They are the major blood vessels that supply blood to the brain. With carotid artery disease, a waxy substance (plaque) forms in the artery walls. Plaque can also build up in other brain arteries, including those in the back of the neck (vertebral arteries) and inside the skull.

Plaques can cause problems that include:

  • Narrowing of the arteries (stenosis): Plaque deposits build up and harden over time, thickening artery walls and slowing blood flow to the brain.
  • Embolism: A piece of plaque breaks off and travels through the bloodstream. If the plaque gets stuck in one of the brain’s blood vessels, it could cause an ischemic stroke.
  • Blood clot: The force of blood flow against plaques can cause blood cells to form clots. If the clot blocks a blood vessel, you may experience a stroke.

Preventing Stroke Due to Neurovascular Disease: Why Choose Us?

Stroke risks from aneurysms and brain and carotid artery disease vary from person to person. You may be able to go years without treatment or never need treatment at all. Coming to the Cerebrovascular Occlusion Clinic at Henry Ford helps you get answers, personalized recommendations and hope for a healthy future. Explore stroke prevention.

Highlights of preventive care for neurovascular disease includes:

  • Specialized imaging: We use carotid ultrasound to screen for narrowing or potential blockages due to carotid artery disease. This test uses high-frequency sound waves to create real-time images showing how blood moves through your carotid arteries. 
  • Minimally invasive imaging: You may undergo tests like CT scans of the arteries (CTA) or MRI scans of the arteries (MRA) to check for signs of neurovascular disease.
  • CT perfusion (CTP): Your care may also include a stress test of the brain to provide additional information about your stroke risk.
  • Coordinated care: Our team of experienced stroke specialists includes an interventional neuroradiologist, neurosurgeon and vascular neurologist. We meet weekly to discuss complex cases. This approach means you receive appropriate care, including surgery or other procedures only when necessary.
  • Nonsurgical treatment: Our experts help many people avoid strokes with medication and lifestyle recommendations. Your care may include cholesterol-lowering medications or healthy eating tips.

Coordination Across Henry Ford Health

Aneurysms typically do not cause symptoms until they rupture. We work with other specialists, including cardiologists, primary care doctors and neurologists, to help high-risk patients receive preventive care from our stroke experts. This level of coordination lowers the likelihood of a rupture or stroke.

You may receive a referral for preventive stroke care if you have:

  • An aneurysm that appears in imaging studies for other medical conditions, like chronic headache or neck injury
  • A bruit, which is a whooshing sound in the neck heard with a stethoscope, suggesting a narrowing of the carotid artery
  • Family history of aneurysm or stroke
  • Uncontrolled high blood pressure or cholesterol

Nationally Recognized Stroke Care

If you experience stroke-like symptoms, help is near. Stroke specialists in Henry Ford emergency rooms come together within minutes to perform a rapid evaluation. We hold ourselves to the highest care standards, which is why our program is regularly recognized by The Joint Commission and the American Heart Association.

Find out more about acute stroke services.

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