Cerebral ischemia is a condition in which the brain does not receive enough blood to meet its metabolic needs. The resulting lack of oxygen can lead to the death of brain tissues, and consequently to an ischemic stroke.
What is cerebral ischemia?
Cerebral ischemia is a disease caused by the reduction of blood intake (and consequently of oxygen) to the brain. There are two forms of cerebral ischemia. The so-called focal ischemia is confined in a limited area of the brain tissue and can be caused by a thrombus or an embolus that block the flow of blood in the artery. Global ischemia instead involves more areas of the brain and is characterized by the reduction or even interruption of blood flow to that organ. The result is always a shortage of oxygen, which must be addressed as soon as possible to avoid serious consequences.
What are the causes of cerebral ischemia?
The most common causes are represented by the atherosclerosis of the vessels that carry blood to the brain; from heart disease (especially atrial fibrillation ) that can cause the formation of emboli through the bloodstream and thus reach the brain vessels and obstruct them; the so-called disease of the small blood vessels that causes occlusion of small arterioles and recognizes them as predisposing factors, such as high blood pressure and diabetes. Then there are rarer causes, such as coagulation disorders, certain genetic diseases, the dissection of the cerebral vessels, the use of certain medications and drugs.
What are the symptoms of cerebral ischemia?
Cerebral ischemia symptoms may present themselves with varying severity. Among the major are include:
- Vision problems (such as blindness in one eye and double vision )
- Difficulty speaking
- Difficulty moving and coordinating movement
- Loss of consciousness
- Sense of weakness in an arm, a leg, half of the body or it can extend to the whole organism.
To prevent cerebral ischemia, it is suggested to not smoke, have regular physical activities, maintain normal weight, limited alcohol consumption, a healthy diet which is low in salt, as well as regular blood pressure and blood sugar check-ups. When the patient is above the age of 50, it's useful to take an electrodiagram, cardiological examination (especially if you suffer from palpitations, and an ultrasound of the arteries that carry blood to the brain. If there are certain risk factors, through prescription antiplatelet or anticoagulant therapy can be applied.
The diagnosis of cerebral ischemia is generally based on the analysis of clinical symptoms. A careful medical history can also assume the cause of ischemia, but it can be difficult to identify with certainty.
Among the tests that may be needed, include:
- Analysis of laboratory testing for the possible presence of high blood pressure, anemia, polycythemia, or infections, hypercoagulable states and evaluation levels of the blood lipids.
- Pressure monitoring and heart rhythm
- CT scan
The treatment of cerebral ischemia in the acute phase involves taking medications that must be consumed within 4 hours after the event and that can promote the reopening of the occluded vessel. After this period they must be given antiplatelet agents or anticoagulants; adequate control of the blood pressure and blood sugar must be maintained. Rehabilitation should be started as soon as possible as it plays a key role.