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What is chronic microvascular ischemic change of the brain?

I had a scan of my brain and they found out that I had chronic microvascular ischemic change.
Chronic microvascular ischemic changes in the brain are often picked up incidentally on a scan of the brain, most typically an MRI. What they are is small areas in the brain where tiny blood vessels have ruptured or clotted off causing, essentially, extremely small areas of strokes. Most commonly, chronic microvascular ischemic changes are associated with chronic health problems, especially high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes. A very high percentage of older adults with long standing problems with these conditions will have this finding on an MRI scan. It is hard to know exactly what the significance of the findings are, however, in your case without knowing more about the reasons why you had the brain scan in the first place. Certainly chronic microvascular changes can build up over time and lead to cognitive and other neurological deficits and so, if these are the symptoms you are experiencing, then they could certainly be explanatory. However, you will need to discuss the situation in detail with the doctor who ordered the study to see what they think. Also, the findings are a good indication that you need to make sure your other medical problems, like those I mentioned above, are under good control, something that your primary care doctor can help you with. Please see him or her soon!
This answer is for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice.
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Answers are written by doctors from top institutions:
  • Cleveland Clinic
  • Boston Children's Hospital
  • NYU Langone Medical Center
  • Brigham and Women's Hospital
  • Johns Hopkins Hospital
  • Mass General Hospital
  • Beth Israel Medical Center
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