What is Cerebral Arteriosclerosis?
This has largely been dealt with as a cause of cerebrovascular accidents in the last subsection.
However, a process of continuous, increasing thickening of the blood-vessel nulls of the brain can take place over a period of years and not necessarily give rise to a CVA.
This is more likely in males, is most common in the 60s, and becomes more and more accentuated with advancing years. Laying down of progressive layers of atheroma and blood fats on the inner part of the vessel wall reduces the normal flow of blood through the vessels, both in volume and speed.
Cerebral Arteriosclerosis Symptoms
The onset is invariably insidious and steadily progressive. Mental and physical changes take place, and there may be abrupt progressions, as small multiple vascular lesions continue to occur. These are insufficient to produce the disasters of a major CVA.
However they impair mental alertness and acuity and the brain gradually becomes scarred.
The patient’s general intellectual perceptiveness is impaired. His range of interests is limited and many activities he once followed are no longer pursued. Memory for recent events reduces, yet the memory of long-standing incidents remains remarkably fresh.
Confusion may occur. The patient finds he cannot readily adapt to new circumstances, accommodation and surroundings.
He becomes obstinate and conservative, hating and fearing change of any order. His emotional control becomes impaired, and his response to situations alters remarkably and is often unpredictable. Whatever tendencies he had to worry, with tension, stress and anxiety, are usually aggravated and exaggerated. Confusion and lack of alertness usually follow.
Physically he gradually deteriorates. Gradual muscular rigidity may take place, and his facial expression set, a little like Parkinson’s disease.
Cerebral Arteriosclerosis Treatment
This must be in one direction only. There is no adequate treatment that can wind back the clock and undo what the ravages of time have brought about. Efforts are usually made to keep the patient as happy as possible in congenial surroundings, and to supply his needs and nutritional requirements. Life must be regulated and simplified to his capacity.
He will gradually, inevitably slide downhill. Finally a major CVA will bring it to an end. Often the patient will be bedridden for the remaining part of his life, probably in a nursing home or institution.
Frequently patients live on for many years, to be finally victim of an concurrent disease such as pneumonia. Modern antibiotics (plus adequate nutrition) tend to keep these people alive for years longer than was once the case. It is sad to see these ageing people languishing in rest homes, deserted by relatives and friends, to eke out their last days on earth as lonely, deserted, unwanted human beings, bereft of their mental capacity which a few years before may have been of a very high level. Such possibilities offer salutary warning to people at risk may be a sudden and lethal disease.