The narrowing of the cerebral vessels is not a disease, but a symptom that accompanies several pathologies at once. Most often, it manifests itself in the initial stages as headaches and memory loss. Many patients misconcept these signs for overwork and do not make an appointment with the doctor. However, the progression of pathologies can result in stroke or dementia. In the presence of manifestations of brain vasospasm, be sure to consult a doctor! The earlier treatment is started, the better the prognosis.
Our brains deal with enormous loads on a daily basis. It needs a lot of nutrients and oxygen to function properly. They are delivered to the brain with blood flow through 4 main arteries: 2 carotid and 2 vertebral arteries. The branches of the great vessels form a kind of circle at the brain base. It is called Willis’ – in honor of the scientist Thomas Willis, who first presented its description in the 17th century. This circle allows you to compensate for blood circulation in the event of damage to one or more of the great vessels. The compensatory capacity of this plexus is very high. A person may feel only slight discomfort in some cases, even with pathological processes in 3 out of 4 main arteries.
However, the compensatory possibilities are not endless. Therefore, sooner or later, cerebral vascular lesions will manifest themselves as noticeable violations.
At rest, the brain requires about 15% of the blood volume circulating throughout the body to function properly. It receives about 25% of the oxygen inhaled by humans. The vessels of the brain are subjected to enormous stress every day. At the same time, in a healthy state, they are incredibly elastic. However, with regular exposure to unfavorable factors, they can narrow, which will lead to a lack of oxygen and nutrients in the brain tissues, which will negatively affect its work.
Classification of cerebral stenosis
- Acute – this condition can lead to a stroke or death;
- Chronic – develops gradually, slowly, a person may not suspect anything about pathological processes for a long time.
Chronic vasospasm has 3 stages of development:
- at the first, the patient experiences minor headaches, drowsiness, chronic fatigue, absent-mindedness and a little forgetfulness.
- the second, severe headaches, gait disorders, a significant decrease in working capacity, mood swings, and malfunctioning of the urinary system are manifested.
- at the third stage, dementia develops – the patient loses independence and the ability to self-service, there are obvious problems with coordination of movements, involuntary urination.
What causes vasospasm in blood?
The main causes of vasospasm in the brain are:
- hypertonic disease;
- cervical osteochondrosis.
Atherosclerosis of the cerebral vessels is a pathological process in which cholesterol plaques form on the walls of the arteries due to a violation of lipid metabolism. Plaques, growing, are eventually replaced by connective tissue. This narrows the lumen of the vessel and reduces its patency. The carotid arteries are most susceptible to atherosclerosis. The plaque can completely block the lumen of the vessel.
Hypertension is a chronic pathology in which arterial hypertension (increased pressure) is observed, in most cases for unknown reasons. Up to 40% of people suffer from this disease. Regular pressure drops affect the elasticity of blood vessels. Their tissue changes pathologically, the walls thicken, local narrowings appear. Over time, the lumen of the vessel is able to completely close.
Osteochondrosis of the cervical spine is manifested by deformation of the intervertebral discs. They are able to clamp the vertebral arteries that carry blood to the brain.
A narrowing of the brain vessels can be observed in patients of any age, including children. People suffering from diseases such as are at risk:
- cardiovascular pathologies (heart rhythm disturbances, coronary artery disease, etc.);
- hypercholesterolemia (high cholesterol).
Also, the possibility of narrowing of the brain vessels increases:
- alcohol abuse;
- sedentary lifestyle;
- frequent stress and emotional stress;
- mental overload;
- a rare stay in the fresh air – with a lack of oxygen, blood pressure can increase;
- excess weight;
- genetic predisposition to cardiovascular disease.
Symptoms of vasospasmn in the brain
In the initial stages, vasospasm is manifested by the following symptoms:
- decreased memory;
- impairment of learning and working capacity;
- chronic fatigue;
- loss of interest in what is happening;
- depressive states;
- mood swings;
- emotional instability;
- Concentration problems;
- sleep disorders: insomnia, restless sleep.
If the treatment is carried out at this stage, then the violations can be eliminated and the patient’s quality of life restored.
With the progression of pathology, the following symptoms are observed:
- speech disorders;
- noise in the head;
- decreased hearing;
- shaking hands;
- awkwardness of movement;
- change in gait.
Long-term narrowed vessels of the brain can cause the development of:
- hemorrhagic stroke – manifested by rupture of a vessel with subsequent hemorrhage in the brain;
- ischemic stroke – a violation of the blood supply to the parts of the brain due to blockage of blood vessels.
It is necessary to eliminate the cause of vasospasm, since if this is not treated, the pathology will progress. Treatment of hypertension, atherosclerosis or cervical osteochondrosis is carried out. For hypertension, doctors presribe:
antihypertensive drugs (lowering blood pressure);
- antiplatelet agents are medicines that prevent blood clots;
- vitamin complexes containing vitamins C, PP and B6;
- a diet with limited salt intake.
Treatment of atherosclerosis involves:
- statins – lowering blood cholesterol levels;
- a diet that restricts animal fats;
- cervical osteochondrosis is prescribed: wearing a corset to maintain proper back and neck position;
- pain relievers;
- anti-inflammatory drugs;
- physiotherapy procedures;
Symptomatic therapy is also carried out. Depending on the disorders caused by vasospasm, the following can be prescribed:
- Drugs that improve metabolic processes in the brain – with memory loss;
- Medications that strengthen blood vessels – for dizziness;
- Massage and physiotherapy exercises – for disorders of motor functions;
- Antidepressants and sedatives – for emotional distress and depression;
- To prevent multi-infarction conditions of the brain, patients take anticoagulants – drugs that reduce blood clotting.
If blood flow is impaired by over 50%, surgical treatment – stenting can be prescribed. This is expansion using a stent – a frame that is placed in the vessel lumen. The operation allows you to expand the vessel and restore blood flow in it.