Chronic microvascular ischemic change is a term that describes areas in the brain where tiny blood vessels have ruptured or clotted off, causing limited blood flow, or ischemia. It is a common finding in adults over 50 with certain chronic health conditions, such as high blood pressure, atherosclerosis or diabetes.
Small vessel ischemic disease is very common in older adults. If left untreated, it can contribute to mental decline, strokes, walking and balance problems, and dementia.
The “chronic ischemic change” refers to what I describe in this article, meaning some form of cerebral small vessel disease. You may want to ask your health providers if it appears to be mild, moderate, or severe in extent.
Small vessel ishemic disease is also called white matter disease and refers to a finding on an MRI or a Cat Scan. Small vessel ischemic disease is actually a byproduct of other diseases and the impact that those diseases have on the brain's white matter.
Helpful, trusted answers from doctors: Dr. Mckenna on small vessel ischemic changes in the white matter: White matter changes frequently seen on brain MRI are the result of chronic small vessel ischemic disaease and it is the resulting small focus of gliosis that shows on the MRI imaging.
This “periventricular small vessel ischemic change” identified in the MRI report is a very common finding in the aged brain, strongly associated with hypertension. This finding is generally a manifestation of atherosclerosis (AKA “hardening of the arteries”) related to high blood pressure.
Small vessel ischemia is a condition in which blood flow through small arteries and arterioles is restricted because of blockage or constriction of the vessels. Severe or prolonged ischemia can cause the tissue that is fed by the small vessels to die because of a lack of oxygen.
The tests for small vessel disease are similar to those for other types of heart disease and include: Stress test with imaging. You'll either exercise on a treadmill or a bike or take a medication that raises your heart rate to mimic the effect of exercise.
This phenomenon is the same in stroke patients. Usually, the affected area is small that the patient has it unnoticed. Chronic ischemic changes in the brain take some time. Over time, the changes in the neurologic function of the patient gets severe leading to conditions like dementia, memory problems, and neurological issues. (1, 2, 3, 4)
Atrophy means shrinkage, and ischemic means due to lack of blood flow. This finding indicates mild shrinkage and long-term changes due to lack of blood flow, probably in the brain.