Cerebrovascular disease encompasses a group of conditions that limit or cut off blood flow to affected areas of the brain. It is often caused by atherosclerosis which can sometimes lead to a stroke. On average, a stroke occurs every 40 seconds with nearly 795,000 Americans suffering a new or recurrent stroke every year. Stroke is considered the 4th leading cause of death and the primary source of serious, long-term disability in the United States.
The Department of Neurology physicians at Cleveland Clinic Florida are experts in diagnosing and treating patients suffering from cerebrovascular disorders. Our multi-disciplinary medical team, which includes vascular neurologists, cerebrovascular neurosurgeons, neuroradiologists and rehabilitation specialists, collaborate to develop a comprehensive treatment plan best suited to each patient’s individual needs. We have a state-of-the-art facility equipped with diagnostic tools such as computed tomography (CT), magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), duplex ultrasound, digital subtraction angiography, carotid ultrasound and Transcranial Doppler (TCD) to detect signs of cerebrovascular disease. Neurological rehabilitation services including outpatient occupational, physical and speech therapy are also available for patients experiencing disability caused by a stroke or other neurological disorder.
The Pauline Braathen Neurological Center is currently designated as an AHCA Primary Stroke Center. Our emergency room performs a rapid evaluation of patients with acute stroke and offers medications that may dissolve clots and reverse the damage done by the stroke. For the past 5 years (2008-2013), Cleveland Clinic Florida has been the recipient of the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association’s Get With The Guidelines® Stroke Gold Plus Performance Achievement Award for our commitment to implementing excellent care for stroke patients, according to evidence-based guidelines.
There are two types of strokes, hemorrhagic and ischemic. An ischemic stroke occurs when blood supply to part of the brain is cut off and a hemorrhagic stroke occurs when brain arteries rupture. In addition to stroke, the spectrum of cerebrovascular disorders also includes brain aneurysms, arterial venous malformations and spinal vascular malformations, carotid stenosis and intracranial atherosclerosis. Cerebrovascular disease includes a number of conditions, each requiring a unique, individualized approach to care. Our physicians treat acute stroke patients in the hospital and provide outpatient consultations for the following cerebrovascular conditions:
Diagnostic examinations are conducted using state-of-the-art imaging equipment and technology such as:
Computed Tomography [64-slice Computed Tomography (CT), CT Angiography] – scan performed to detect a hemorrhagic stroke in the emergency room. It can also reveal ischemic strokes 6-12 hours after their onset and CT angiography can detect blockages, aneurysms, and vascular malformations in brain blood vessels.
Magnetic Resonance (MRI, MR Angiography) –a radiation-free imaging option that uses powerful magnets and radio waves to generate detailed images of the brain and detect strokes within minutes of their onset. A special type of MRI known as magnetic resonance angiography allows physicians to visualize narrowing or blockage of blood vessels, aneurysms, and vascular malformations.
Position Emission Tomography (PET) - nuclear medicine exam that reveals changes in brain metabolism relevant to many neurological disorders such as stroke.
Single Photon Emission Computed Tomography (SPECT) – scan that shows blood flow to the brain. It can provide information related to diminished blood flow to certain parts of the brain before changes show up on a CT scan or MRI.
Catheter based digital subtraction angiography (DSA) – considered to be the gold standard diagnostic exam for neurovascular disease. This technique is used to clearly visualize blood vessels in a bony or dense soft tissue environment.
Transcranial Doppler Examination – used to measure blood flow through the major blood vessels in the brain. The test is primarily used to detect intracranial stenosis (the narrowing of the vessels) or occlusion of blood vessels. It is also helpful in detecting vasospasm, a dangerous contraction of the wall of a blood vessel in the brain following a hemorrhagic stroke. This technique can also assess for clots traveling to the brain to cause strokes.
Transcranial Doppler Bubble Testing (TCB) – test used to determine if there is an abnormal opening between the chambers of the heart which could result in your brain receiving blood clots that may result in stroke.
Intraoperative monitoring of intracranial blood flow – this technique allows evaluation of cerebral blood flow during surgical or interventional procedures that might be expected to potentially compromise circulation to the brain.
Carotid duplex ultrasound – uses imaging technology to detect blood clots, plaque build-up and other blood flow problems in the carotid arteries. It is often used in the evaluation of patients with transient ischemic attacks (TIA), stroke, and vertebrobasilar insufficiency.
Diagnostic tests are reviewed by board-certified neurologists, radiologists, and vascular specialists and are administered by registered or certified technicians. Most of these diagnostic tests are noninvasive.
Stroke affects millions of Americans of various ages each year, leading to disability and death. Up to 80% of strokes can be prevented and there are things you can do to help lower your stroke risk.
Lifestyle changes which can significantly reduce your risk of a stroke include:
- Limiting alcohol intake
- Controlling blood pressure
- Lowering cholesterol
- Maintaining a healthy diet
- Managing diabetes
- Participating in smoking-cessation programs for those who smoke
The Pauline Braathen Neurological Center conducts free yearly stroke screenings in May consisting of checks of height/weight, blood pressure/pulse, glucose and cholesterol screenings, EKG rhythm strips, and physician consultations for education. We provide questionnaires to patients at our screenings to help assess their risk of stroke.
The stroke risk calculator below is a useful tool to help assess your risk of having a stroke within the next 10 years. Please note that the calculation provided is only an estimate of your risk. We recommend you see your physician for a more in-depth diagnosis due to other possible contributing risk factors.