Patient's Guide for Neurovascular Conditions
Understanding Vascular Disorders of the Brain
Neurovascular disorders, including aneurysms and carotid artery disease, take a huge health toll on Americans annually, and can have life-threatening consequences. Brain aneurysms, in particular, affect an estimated 6 million Americans annually, many of whom are under age 50.
Despite these devastating statistics, progress has been made in the management of neurovascular diseases. Learn more about the signs and symptoms of neurovascular disease, types of treatments available, recovering from neurovascular surgery and how to prevent a recurrence.
What is a Neurovascular Condition?
A neurovascular condition (also known as a cerebrovascular condition) is a disease or disorder that takes place within the blood vessels. Blood vessels carry oxygenated blood from your lungs to your body's nervous system through a connected network called the neurovascular system. When a disruption happens in your blood vessels or blood flow, your body can't get the oxygen and nutrients that it needs, which can quickly be life-threatening.
Signs and Symptoms
The signs and symptoms of a neurovascular disease vary by disorder, however, there are some common signs to be aware of including:
- Problems with vision, such as dimness or loss of vision in one or both eyes
- Dizziness or problems with balance or coordination
- Problems with movement or walking
- Fainting (loss of consciousness) or seizure
- Numbness or muscle weakness on one side of the body
- Trouble speaking or understanding speech
- Severe headaches with no known cause, especially if they happen suddenly
- Sudden nausea or vomiting not caused by illness
- Brief loss or change of consciousness, such as fainting, confusion, seizures or coma
- Transient ischemic attacks (TIAs), also known as a mini-stroke
- Personality or behavioral changes
If you find yourself or a loved one experiencing any of these symptoms, it's important that you see an expert to be evaluated even if the symptom goes away. With conditions like these, speed of treatment makes a difference in the severity of long-term complications.
If you're experiencing an emergency, call 911.
We'll work with your referring doctor to provide immediate diagnosis and treatment.
Neurovascular Conditions & Treatments
At the Cedars-Sinai Neurovascular Center, specialists from a variety of medical disciplines work together to diagnose and treat a full range of neurovascular conditions, such as aneurysms, carotid artery stenosis and moyamoya disease, with the latest devices and minimally invasive technologies.
Specialists at the center also manage less common vascular problems, such as spontaneous or traumatic carotid or vertebral dissections; neck or brain artery injuries due to trauma; vasculitis-related disorders of the neck and brain; epistaxis; head and neck, facial or orbital vascular malformations; pre-operative tumor embolization; venous sinus occlusion; and vertebral compression fractures.
Find out about advanced therapies for neurovascular conditions at Cedars-Sinai.
If you've had surgical treatment for a neurovascular condition, follow your doctor’s advice about post-surgery recovery. In general, there are 3 basic steps to follow:
- Get plenty of rest, as recommended by your doctor.
- Gradually return to physical activity. Work with physical, occupational and speech therapists as directed by your doctor, to regain and improve your physical function.
- Consult with your doctor about medications. This includes possible changes to dosage of medications you were on before surgery, and sometimes new medications, such as blood thinners.
While there's no foolproof way to prevent neurovascular disease, you can reduce your risk of a first-time event or recurrence by adopting the following healthy lifestyles:
- Eating a nutrient-rich diet that includes fresh fruit and vegetables
- Exercising regularly
- Not smoking
- Limiting alcohol intake and not abusing drugs
- Controlling pre-existing conditions such as high blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol and heart disease
Dealing with a neurovascular condition doesn’t have to be an isolating experience. Whether you're a patient or caregiver, joining a support group can help you connect with others who have similar experiences. Together, members can help each other cope with a diagnosis, complete treatment and improve their quality of life.
Two support groups for stroke are held at Cedars-Sinai for patients, their families and caregivers.
- Yes I Can stroke support group (all ages): Meets on the second Tuesday of each month, 2-3:30 p.m.
- One Stroke Ahead stroke support group (ages 18-55): Meets on the second Tuesday of each month, 6:30-8 p.m.
For more information and meeting locations, contact Stefanie Brewer, PT, at 310-423-6267. Always to call to confirm attendance and location.
Understand how the multidisciplinary, rapid response teams at Cedar-Sinai are quickly able to diagnose and treat stroke, and what you need to know to identify, prevent and recover from this common neurovascular disease.