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Vertebral Artery Blockage
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Vertebral Artery Blockage

I am a 52 year old femal with a history of migrane (migraine) headaches.  I have a family history of cerebral anuerysms; my father dying from one at age 52, and my grandfather at 54.  Recently I began having a different type of headache, centered behind the eyes, with very intense stabbing pain.  I have also had neck pain radiating into shoulder, arm and back.  disturbances to peripheral vision, dizziness, and tingling to fingers, and tremors to my right hand. Cardiac concerns have been ruled out.  I recently had a CTA which revealed a "diminutive" left vertebral artery.  The report in fact said it was virtually non existant.  The right vertebral artery was slightly enlarged with calcification across "nearly the entire circumferance."  My general practioner does not believe these findings are related to my symptoms, and has refered me to a neurologist.  Regardless, he does not believe anything can be done to reverse the calcification, believing angioplasty to be too risky as the artery is so small.  What are the risks of having an absent left artery, and a right artery that is nearly 100% blocked.  What is the likelyhood that I will suffer a stroke, and what will such a stroke affect?  Just worried sick that I have this ticking time bomb in my head, and I have to wait a month before I can see a neurologist.
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I think I know how you feel, I've had this for 4 months the neuro won't give me an MRA, I'm getting scared. I lose balance get bad pain up my neck and have bouts with vertigo. The pain in my neck feels like rushing to my head(I think it's blood) I think it is some kind of impingement in the vetebral artery. I turn my neck and sometimes feel the rush. I have trouble doing menial tasks when 5 months ago I was at the gym everyday!

What do I ask my doctor? how do I get help?
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I went to a neurologist about 6 or 7 years ago because I had unusual balance problems and some numbness that would come and go.  I could not walk down any steps without assistance and I could not walk a straight line if I were more than 2 stories high.  Blood work showed that I had a B12 deficiency and during the examine he heard unusual sounds from my neck and ordered an ultrasound.  The ultrasound showed the blood flow moving in the wrong direction back into my brain.  He sent me to a cardiologist to look for blockages.  The CAT scan showed that my left vertebral artery was blocked and was causing blood to go the wrong way.  To me it looked so shriveled like it was dead.  The vascular surgeon told me that the right artery was very large and healthy and that the blockage was inoperable because it was so close to my brain stem.  He also told me that I should be okay because of the healthy artery plus I showed no plaque or defects on my carotids either.

I am not a doctor, but I can tell you that when your doctor listens with a stethoscope on your neck and your back they are listening to make sure that blood is flowing properly.  

I noticed that when I would lay down flat on my back and turn my head to one side that I would get a surge of blood flow and feel like I was about to pass out or fall (although I am already lying down).  That feeling would only last for a few moments and then go away.  I am not sure if this is similar to what you have experienced but I can tell you what I did.  I was convinced that this lower blood flow to my brain was causing my balance problems and decided that I was going to do something about it because it seemed that doctors could do nothing for me.  About 3 years ago I started balancing on one leg for a few seconds at a time and gradually increased the duration each time.  I did this every single day (sometimes several times each day).  After 2 or 3 days I started getting these incredibly painful headaches, but only after 2 or 3 days of headaches did I actually make the connection.  The more balance drills that I did, the more I was increasing the blood flow to my brain which was causing the headaches.  At first I wanted to stop, but then I figured that increasing blood flow to my brain was actually a good thing and I knew it was working because I could feel the change in pressure in my head.  The headaches stopped on the 3rd or 4th day and my balance greatly improved.  Also, increasing blood flow to your brain is actually promotes healing throughout your body.  I continue to do balance drills several times a week because I do not want to back slide.

I hope this helps!
          
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