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What is microvascular ischemia?

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Microvascular ischemia is a condition associated with reduced blood flow in some areas of the brain. It is caused by the rupturing of tiny blood vessels or by blood clots in the vessels, according to Healthgrades. It is normally detected by magnetic resonance imaging, or MRI, scans of the brain.

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In its advanced stage, the condition is referred to as chronic microvascular ischemia. At this stage, small areas in the brain in which tiny blood vessels have ruptured, narrowed, hardened or even clotted off are causing small areas of stroke, as Healthgrades explains. The condition is commonly associated with people suffering from various chronic medical problems, such as diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and prior strokes.

Older adults who suffer from one of microvascular ischemia's associated conditions are more likely to have this finding come up on an MRI scan. Other risk factors of the condition include frequent smoking, chronic alcoholism and obesity, according to Healthgrades. In some cases, the condition leads to cognitive, sensory or motor problems. Treatment depends on the particular cause, but it generally aims at restoring normal blood flow and reducing further injury of the tissue and death. Because it can lead to death or even permanent damage, seeking professional medical assistance is necessary.

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