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How does small vessel disease affect your brain?

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Quick Answer

A small vessel disease such as leukoaraiosis leads to the blockage of blood to the brain, depriving the brain cells of the needed nutrients and oxygen, according to Life Extension. The effect of the blockage is dementia, which significantly reduces the thinking capacity of the person.

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Full Answer

Demyelination, blood-brain barrier disturbance, axon loss and thickening of the vessel walls are some of the major events associated with small vessel disease, according to Life Extension. Small blood vessels are prone to atherosclerosis because of their inelasticity. These vessels thicken, leading to the reduction of the lumen diameter, which causes reduced supply of nutrients and oxygen. Secondly, an occlusion occurs, in which the supply of blood to crucial parts of the brain is stopped. Extensive damage to the brain leads to dementia, which is consistent with behavior common among individuals with damaged ischemic sections of the brain.

Small vessel disease may cause behavioral changes. The level of the ailment required for dementia has not been confirmed, notes Life Extension. For instance, NINDS-AIREN criteria suggest that multiple lacunes are necessary for determining the sensitivity and specificity level of vascular dementia. Lack of a particular approach to identify the effects of small vessel disease on the brain complicates its diagnosis and treatment.

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