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Overview

Intracranial atherosclerosis or ICAD is the hardening of arteries which become clogged with a sticky substance called plaque. These blood vessels supply blood to brain and the blockage with plaque limits blood flow causing a heart attack. If the vessel becomes completely blocked, the insufficient blood flow to brain results into stroke.
There are no usual symptoms of this neurovascular disorder ICAD and can only be diagnosed if you had a stroke. The chances of ICAD increases with certain health conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, obesity, high blood pressure or high cholesterol or a family history of stroke.

 

Symptoms

Intracranial atherosclerosis is only found when a major stroke occurs. Some of the symptoms of a stroke include:
  • Numbness or weakness of the face, arm or leg
  • Dizziness
  • Difficulty speaking
  • Vision problems
  • Loss of balance or coordination
  • Severe headache
  • Loss of consciousness and seizures.

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Treatment

For ICAD, the doctor may recommend medication and lifestyle changes to decrease the risk of a stroke. However, if there is significant blockage in the artery, you may need one of the following intracranial atherosclerosis treatment:

Intracranial Stent Placement and Angioplasty Intracranial stent placement is an endovascular process in which a small puncture is made in the femoral artery under local anaesthesia. The catheter is inserted in the internal carotid artery under x-ray guidance which is then negotiated by small caliber wire. The stent is then placed in the narrow area in the artery within the brain and then it is released and dilated with an angioplasty balloon.The stent remains in place and keeps the artery open and improves blood flow.It also holds the plaque and reduces the risk of plaque break off and thus reduces the chances of stroke.

Medications

The doctor can prescribe antiplatelet or anticoagulant medications. Some of the common drugs used include aspirin, Plavix, warfarin, Aggrenox, or Ticlid. These medicines reduce the risk of clot formation. The doctor can also suggest the medications to lower blood pressure or cholesterol and recommend ways to control the risk factors through lifestyle changes.

ECA/MCA Bypass Surgery

ECA/MCA bypass is a surgical process that prevents stroke from occurring.It involves the drilling of small hole in the skull and connecting the superficial temporal artery to the middle cerebral artery to increase blood flow to the brain. This surgical attachment of the new vessel in the brain can help blood flow smoothly around the clogged artery, bypassing it entirely.

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