Symptoms & Signs
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:
- Headache (usually on a specific part of the head)
- Neurologic changes that may start suddenly, including:
- Confusion, delirium
- Double vision, decreased vision
- Sensation changes or loss of sensation in an area
- Speech difficulties
- Weakness or paralysis
- Stupor or coma (rarely)
Some bleeds are very small and occur in different parts of the brain over many months. Symptoms can include:
- Episodes of confusion
- Headaches that come and go
- Loss of mental function (dementia)
- Sensation changes (unusual sensations) that come and go
Diagnosis & Tests
Cerebral amyloid angiopathy is difficult to diagnose until after death, when a biopsy of the blood vessels of the brain can be done.
A physical exam can be relatively normal if you have a small bleed, but you may show some brain function changes. Your symptoms and the the results of your physical exam and any imaging tests may cause your doctor to suspect this problem.
A CT scan or MRI of the head may show:
- Bleeding in the brain
- Signs of prior bleeding in the brain
Magnetic resonance angiography (MRA) of the brain can help with the diagnosis of large bleeds and may be used to rule out arteriovenous malformation or aneurysm as the cause of the bleed.
Review Date : 11/15/2009
Reviewed By : David C. Dugdale, III, MD, Professor of Medicine, Division of General Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Washington School of Medicine. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.