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Cerebrovascular Disease

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Updated September 15, 2013

Definition: Cerebrovascular disease refers to a group of conditions that affect the circulation of blood to the brain, causing limited or no blood flow to affected areas of the brain.

Atherosclerosis is one of the conditions that can cause cerebrovascular disease. During this process, high cholesterol levels -- coupled with inflammation in areas of the arteries in the brain -- can cause the cholesterol to build up in the vessel in the form of a thick, waxy plaque. This plaque can limit, or completely obstruct, blood flow to the brain, causing a stroke, transient ischemic attacks, or dementia, which may lead to a variety of other health complications.

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