What is Vertebrobasilar Disease
Vertebrobasilar disease is a condition in which too little blood reaches the back of the brain. Vertebrobasilar disease can cause symptoms that interfere with day-to-day life, such as double vision. It also increases the risk of stroke and transient ischemic attack (TIA). Vertebrobasilar disease is also called vertebrobasilar insufficiency.
What are the causes?
This condition may be caused by:
- A blockage in the blood vessels that carry blood to the back of the brain (vertebrobasilar arteries).
- A tear in a vertebrobasilar artery.
- A condition that causes less blood to flow to the base of the brain, such as high blood pressure or diabetes.
The condition can be triggered by:
- Sudden changes in blood pressure.
- Sudden changes in position.
- An injury.
- Turning your head to an extreme position.
- Overextending your neck.
What increases the risk?
This condition is more likely to develop in people who:
- Are elderly.
- Are male.
- Are smokers.
- Have high blood pressure, high cholesterol, obesity, or diabetes.
- Have a family history of this condition.
What are the signs or symptoms?
Symptoms of this condition include:
- Numbness or weakness in the arms or legs.
- Sudden, severe dizziness (vertigo).
- Suddenly falling down (drop attack).
- Loss of coordination.
- Vision problems, such as double vision or vision loss.
- Nausea and vomiting.
- Slurred speech.
- Trouble swallowing.
- Headaches that affect the back of the head.
How is this diagnosed?
This condition is diagnosed with a physical exam and tests. Tests may include:
- An ultrasound.
- A CT scan.
How is this treated?
Treatment for this condition depends on the cause. It may involve taking blood-thinning medicine, such as aspirin, to reduce the risk of stroke. It may also involve lifestyle changes, such as:
- Controlling your blood pressure, cholesterol, or diabetes.
- Quitting smoking.
Treatment is usually started at a hospital.
Follow these instructions at home:
- Take over-the-counter and prescription medicines only as told by your health care provider.
- Do not use any tobacco products, such as cigarettes, chewing tobacco, and e-cigarettes. If you need help quitting, ask your health care provider.
- Keep all follow-up visits as told by your health care provider. This is important.
Get help right away if:
- Your symptoms return.
- You have new symptoms.
Symptoms of this condition may represent a serious problem that is an emergency. Do not wait to see if the symptoms will go away. Get medical help right away. Call your local emergency services. Do not drive yourself to the hospital.