From Our 2011 Archives
Rare Form of Stroke Affects Young People
CVT, Which Often Affects Pregnant Women and Young Adults, More Common Than Previously Thought
Reviewed By Laura J. Martin, MD
Feb. 3, 2011 -- The American Heart Association says in a new scientific statement that a rare and often underreported form of stroke involving the veins and not the arteries is more common than previously thought.
The AHA says the statement is its first on diagnosing and managing cerebral venous thrombosis, also known as CVT, which affects children, young adults, and women during pregnancy and in the postpartum period.
The statement is published in Stroke: Journal of the American Heart Association, and is a comprehensive review of diagnosing, imaging, and treating the disorder.
This type of stroke is caused by a clot in the dural venous sinuses, veins that drain blood from the brain toward the heart.
Facts About Cerebral Venous Thrombosis
According to the new statement:
Screening Recommended for Some Patients With CVT
The scientists also recommend screening patients for conditions that may predispose them to CVT, such as underlying inflammatory disease and infection or the use of oral contraceptives.
"A predisposing condition to form clots or a direct cause is identified in about two-thirds of patients with CVT," Gustavo Saposnik, MD, assistant professor of medicine at Saint Michael's Hospital at the University of Toronto, says in a news release. "Examples include pregnancy, immediate postpartum, dehydration or infections in children, and patients taking oral contraceptives. Some of these predisposing conditions are transient and reversible."
The statement says a blood test can determine whether a person has a hereditary condition that makes their blood more likely to clot and thereby increasing their risk of CVT.
The AHA statement says patients having a brain hemorrhage with an unclear cause should undergo an imaging scan of their cerebral veins. The most common symptom of CVT is headaches that progress in severity over days or weeks, and also seizures. Some patients may report double vision, weakness affecting their extremities, or other neurological findings.
CVT generally is diagnosed based on imaging and clinical suspicion. Magnetic resonance imaging is usually more sensitive to detecting CVT than CT imaging, the researchers say.
SOURCES: News release, American Heart Association.Saposnik, G. Stroke: Journal of the American Heart Association, February 2011.
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