Cerebral amyloid angiopathy

Alternative Names

Amyloidosis – cerebral; CAA

Definition of Cerebral amyloid angiopathy

Cerebral amyloid angiopathy is a neurological condition in which proteins called amyloid build up on the walls of the arteries in the brain. The condition increases the risk of hemorrhagic stroke and dementia.

Causes, incidence, and risk factors

The cause of cerebral amyloid angiopathy is unknown. Persons with this condition have deposits of amyloid protein in the walls of the brain arteries. The protein is usually not deposited anywhere else in the body.

Symptoms

Cerebral amyloid angiopathy can cause bleeding into the brain, usually in the outer parts of the brain, called the lobes, and not the deep areas. Symptoms occur because bleeding in the brain harms brain tissue. If there is a lot of bleeding, immediate symptoms occur and resemble a stroke. Such symptoms include:

Signs and tests

Cerebral amyloid angiopathy is difficult to diagnose with certainty without a sample of brain tissue. This is usually done after death or when a biopsy of the blood vessels of the brain is done.

Treatment

There is no known effective treatment. The goal of treatment is to relieve symptoms. In some cases, rehabilitation is needed for weakness or clumsiness. This can include physical, occupational, or speech therapy.

Expectations (prognosis)

The disorder slowly gets worse but varies from person to person.

Review

David C. Dugdale, III, MD, Professor of Medicine, Division of General Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Washington School of Medicine; Daniel B. Hoch, PhD, MD, Assistant Professor of Neurology, Harvard Medical School, Department of Neurology, Massachusetts General Hospital. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc. – 8/27/2010

Amyloidosis on the fingers
Arteries of the brain

ADAM Medical Encyclopedia

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