Information for Patients
Also called: Cephalic disorders
Most brain malformations begin long before a baby is born. Something damages the developing nervous system or causes it to develop abnormally. Sometimes it's a genetic problem. In other cases, exposure to certain medicines, infections, or radiation during pregnancy interferes with brain development. Parts of the brain may be missing, abnormally small or large, or not fully developed.
Treatment depends upon the problem. In many cases, treatment only helps with symptoms. It may include antiseizure medicines, shunts to drain fluid from the brain, and physical therapy.
There are head malformations that do not involve the brain. Craniofacial disorders are the result of abnormal growth of soft tissue and bones in the face and head. It's common for new babies to have slightly uneven heads, but parents should watch the shape of their baby's head for possible problems.
NIH: National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke
- Brain surgery (Medical Encyclopedia)
- Brain surgery - discharge (Medical Encyclopedia)
Genetic Brain Disorders
Also called: Inborn genetic brain disorders
A genetic brain disorder is caused by a variation or a mutation in a gene. A variation is a different form of a gene. A mutation is a change in a gene. Genetic brain disorders affect the development and function of the brain.
Some genetic brain disorders are due to random gene mutations or mutations caused by environmental exposure, such as cigarette smoke. Other disorders are inherited, which means that a mutated gene or group of genes is passed down through a family. They can also be due to a combination of both genetic changes and other outside factors.
Some examples of genetic brain disorders include
- Tay-Sachs disease
- Wilson disease
Many people with genetic brain disorders fail to produce enough of certain proteins that influence brain development and function. These brain disorders can cause serious problems that affect the nervous system. Some have treatments to control symptoms. Some are life-threatening.
- Lesch-Nyhan syndrome (Medical Encyclopedia)
- Maple syrup urine disease (Medical Encyclopedia)
- Menkes syndrome (Medical Encyclopedia)
- Neuronal ceroid lipofuscinoses (NCLS) (Medical Encyclopedia)
- Niemann-Pick disease (Medical Encyclopedia)
What are vascular diseases?
Your vascular system is your body's network of blood vessels. It includes your
- Arteries, which carry oxygen-rich blood from your heart to your tissues and organs
- Veins, which carry the blood and waste products back to your heart
- Capillaries, which are tiny blood vessels that connect your small arteries to your small veins. The walls of the capillaries are thin and leaky, to allow for an exchange of materials between your tissues and blood.
Vascular diseases are conditions which affect your vascular system. They are common and can be serious. Some types include
- Aneurysm - a bulge or "ballooning" in the wall of an artery
- Atherosclerosis - a disease in which plaque builds up inside your arteries. Plaque is made up of fat, cholesterol, calcium, and other substances found in the blood.
- Blood clots, including deep vein thrombosis and pulmonary embolism
- Coronary artery disease and carotid artery disease, diseases that involve the narrowing or blockage of an artery. The cause is usually a buildup of plaque.
- Raynaud's disease - a disorder that causes the blood vessels to narrow when you are cold or feeling stressed
- Stroke - a serious condition that happens when blood flow to your brain stops.
- Varicose veins - swollen, twisted veins that you can see just under the skin
- Vasculitis - inflammation of the blood vessels
What causes vascular diseases?
The causes of vascular diseases depend on the specific disease. These causes include
- Heart diseases such as high cholesterol and high blood pressure
- Medicines, including hormones
Sometimes the cause is unknown.
Who is at risk for vascular diseases?
The risk factors for vascular diseases can vary, depending on the specific disease. But some of the more common risk factors include
- Age - your risk of some diseases goes up as you get older
- Conditions that can affect the heart and blood vessels, such as diabetes or high cholesterol
- Family history of vascular or heart diseases
- Infection or injury that damages your veins
- Lack of exercise
- Sitting or standing still for long periods of time
What are the symptoms of vascular diseases?
The symptoms for each disease are different.
How are vascular diseases diagnosed?
To make a diagnosis, your health care provider will do a physical exam and ask about your symptoms and medical history. You may have imaging tests and/or blood tests.
How are vascular diseases treated?
Which treatment you get depends on which vascular disease you have and how severe it is. Types of treatments for vascular diseases include
- Lifestyle changes, such as eating a heart-healthy diet and getting more exercise
- Medicines, such as blood pressure medicines, blood thinners, cholesterol medicines, and clot-dissolving drugs. In some cases, providers use a catheter to send medicine directly to a blood vessel.
- Non-surgical procedures, such as angioplasty, stenting, and vein ablation
Can vascular diseases be prevented?
There are steps you can take to help prevent vascular diseases:
- Make healthy lifestyle changes, such as eating a heart-healthy diet and getting more exercise
- Don't smoke. If you are already a smoker, talk to your health care provider for help in finding the best way for you to quit.
- Keep your blood pressure and cholesterol in check
- If you have diabetes, control your blood sugar
- Try not to sit or stand for up long periods of time. If you do need to sit all day, get up and move around every hour or so. If you traveling on a long trip, you can also wear compression stockings and regularly stretch your legs.
- Aortic arch syndrome (Medical Encyclopedia)
- Arterial embolism (Medical Encyclopedia)
- Arteriogram (Medical Encyclopedia)
- Cerebral angiography (Medical Encyclopedia)
- Duplex ultrasound (Medical Encyclopedia)
- Venous insufficiency (Medical Encyclopedia)
- Venous ulcers -- self-care (Medical Encyclopedia)
Moyamoya disease Moyamoya disease is a disorder of blood vessels in the brain, specifically the internal carotid arteries and the arteries that branch from them. These vessels, which provide oxygen-rich blood to the brain, narrow over time. Narrowing of these vessels reduces blood flow in the brain. In an attempt to compensate, new networks of small, fragile blood vessels form. These networks, visualized by a particular test called an angiogram, resemble puffs of smoke, which is how the condition got its name: "moyamoya" is an expression meaning "something hazy like a puff of smoke" in Japanese.Moyamoya disease commonly begins either around age 5 or in a person's thirties or forties. A lack of blood supply to the brain leads to several symptoms of the disorder, including temporary stroke-like episodes (transient ischemic attacks), strokes, and seizures. In addition, the fragile blood vessels that grow can develop bulges (aneurysms), or they can break open, leading to bleeding (hemorrhage) in the brain. Affected individuals may develop recurrent headaches, involuntary jerking movements (chorea), or a decline in thinking ability. The symptoms of moyamoya disease often worsen over time if the condition is not treated.Some people have the blood vessel changes characteristic of moyamoya disease in addition to features of another disorder, such as neurofibromatosis type 1, sickle cell disease, or Graves disease. These individuals are said to have moyamoya syndrome.