Blood Vessel Disorder Linked to "Mini" Strokes

Misshapen brain arteries associated with damage to speech, movement and cognition

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TUESDAY, March 1, 2005 (HealthDay News) -- French researchers have linked an obscure blood vessel disorder to "mini" strokes that can damage small areas of the brain.

The finding is reported in the current online issue of the Annals of Neurology.

Intracranial arterial dolichoectasia is a condition in which the larger arteries of the brain become elongated and misshapen. It has been considered a complication of hardening of the arteries and not directly life-threatening.

However, the researchers say they have linked the disorder with small vessel disease, in which blood flow through the body's tiniest veins and arteries becomes restricted or blocked.

Small vessel disease can lead to lacunar or "mini" strokes, which can damage functions such as movement, speech, cognition, memory or coordination, depending on the part of the brain damaged.

The study involved magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans performed on 510 stroke patients. Lead author Dr. Pierre Amarenco of Bichat University Hospital in Paris found a direct relationship between the size of arteries affected by dolichoectasia and the severity of small vessel disease.

Amarenco's research team earlier linked dolichoectasia with aortic aneurysms, a potentially fatal weakening of the main artery that carries blood out from the heart.

More information

The University of Michigan has more about stroke.

SOURCES: American Neurological Association, news release, Feb. 28, 2005

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