Cerebrovascular disease refers to the group of conditions characterized by disease of the blood vessels that supply blood to the brain. It can occur in the blood vessels that lead to the brain or in the blood vessels inside the brain. While it usually presents with symptoms of a stroke (the group of clinical manifestations of cerebrovascular disease), it can be asymptomatic, in which case it is usually detected either by physical examination or selected imaging techniques.
The term “cerebrovascular accident” (or CVA) is incorrect and should be avoided, as there is nothing accidental about a stroke. The term “cerebrovascular disease” is a more general term than is “stroke,” because “cerebrovascular disease” includes asymptomatic or subclinical disease, in addition to the clinically manifest strokes.
Most cerebrovascular disease is obstructive in nature, caused by atherosclerotic plaques that line the blood vessel walls and block the blood flow. If the blockage is only...