Cerebral Arteriosclerosis

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What is cerebral arteriosclerosis?

Cerebral arteriosclerosis is a disease that occurs when the arteries in the brain become hard, thick, and narrow due to the buildup of plaque (fatty deposits) inside the artery walls. This buildup decreases the amount of blood flow to certain areas of the brain. If the buildup becomes too severe, it can block flow and cause an ischemic stroke. An ischemic stroke can permanently impair brain and body function.

In addition, cerebral arteriosclerosis can result in an aneurysm, which is a weakened area in the artery due to abnormal stretching from plaque buildup. An aneurysm can burst and cause bleeding in the brain, leading to a hemorrhagic stroke. Treatment may include medications or surgery.

Signs and symptoms of cerebral arteriosclerosis may include:

  • Headaches, which can be severe
  • Facial pain
  • Trouble seeing
  • Personality changes
  • Numbness
  • Confusion or dizziness
  • Trouble speaking or understanding

Plaque buildup can occur at any age, even in childhood. The health events from cerebral arteriosclerosis can lead to long-term neurological and motor impairments or death.

Risk factors for cerebral arteriosclerosis include:

  • Cigarette smoking
  • High cholesterol
  • High blood pressure (all of which can damage the inner lining of the artery wall)
  • Increasing age
  • Prior risk of stroke and/or heart attack
Learn About Clinical Trials
Clinical trials are studies that allow us to learn more about disorders and improve care. They can help connect patients with new and upcoming treatment options.

How can I or my loved one help improve care for people with cerebral arteriosclerosis?

Consider participating in a clinical trial so clinicians and scientists can learn more about cerebral arteriosclerosis and related disorders. Clinical research uses human volunteers to help researchers learn more about a disorder and perhaps find better ways to safely detect, treat, or prevent disease.

All types of volunteers are needed—those who are healthy or may have an illness or disease—of all different ages, sexes, races, and ethnicities to ensure that study results apply to as many people as possible, and that treatments will be safe and effective for everyone who will use them.

For information about participating in clinical research visit NIH Clinical Research Trials and You. Learn about clinical trials currently looking for people with cerebral arteriosclerosis at Clinicaltrials.gov, a database of current and past clinical studies and research results.

Where can I find more information about cerebral arteriosclerosis?

Visit the following sources to learn more about cerebral arteriosclerosis and related conditions:

More information may be available:


Order publications from the NINDS Catalog
The NINDS Publication Catalog offers printed materials on neurological disorders for patients, health professionals, and the general public. All materials are free of charge, and a downloadable PDF version is also available for most publications.