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Cerebrovascular disorders in diabetes

Cerebrovascular disorders are brain infarction, cerebral haemorrhage or transient ischaemic attack. Diabetes increases the risk of cerebrovascular diseases.

Cerebrovascular disorders are also called cerebrovascular accidents or CVA. The abbreviation of temporary cerebrovascular disorder is TIA (Transient Ischaemic Attack). A TIA incident can be a sign of an impending brain infarction. That is why it is also important to seek immediate treatment if you have a TIA incident.

The main reason for cerebrovascular disorders is a narrowing of the major cerebral arteries or carotid arteries due to atherosclerosis. Roughly a fourth of cerebrovascular disorders are caused by a blockage of the brain’s small blood vessels. A blood clot can form in the narrowed section, blocking the flow of blood. Atrial fibrillation can also involve a clot developing in the heart and travelling to the brain.

Diabetes involves a 2–6 times higher risk of brain infarction. In nearly 30% of brain infarct or TIA cases, the patient was diagnosed with an increased blood sugar. To some degree, this is because diabetes is common in the elderly. On the other hand, a person with diabetes is more likely to have risk factors or medical conditions that predispose to cerebrovascular disorders.

Vascular dementia can occur as a result of conditions that affect either the large or small blood vessels in the brain. Diabetes increases the risk of vascular dementia.

The most important treatable cerebrovascular disorder risk factor is high blood pressure, i.e. hypertension. The risk is also increased by chronically high blood sugar and LDL cholesterol, smoking, obesity and sleep apnoea. Proper treatment of blood sugar and blood pressure combined with cholesterol medication is an effective way to reduce cerebrovascular disorders.

Healthy lifestyle choices supporting good diabetes therapy can also reduce the risk of cerebral arteriosclerosis and cerebrovascular accidents. Of the above, non-smoking, weight control, moderate alcohol use, a healthy diet that is good for your heart health and blood sugar as well as daily exercise are part of holistic cerebrovascular accident prevention, treatment and rehabilitation.

Updated 30.9.2023