Stroke is one of the leading causes of adult disability in the United Kingdom, with a stroke happening every five minutes. A major cause of stroke is atherosclerosis, the furring up and hardening of arteries due to the build up of cholesterol. These regions of atherosclerosis can become inflamed, resulting in damage to the lining of the blood vessel and the formation of blood clots, which subsequently travel up to the brain to cause a stroke.
Using advanced imaging techniques we have been able to identify and measure inflammation within atherosclerosis, thereby allowing us to identify areas of atherosclerosis at high risk of causing stroke. Furthermore, we have found that chronic exposure to such inflammation may cause damage to the brain that is linked with vascular dementia, as well as promoting inflammation within the brain that may prime it for injury.
Finally, the effect of this inflammation may have an effect beyond the blood vessels and brain, resulting in generalised frailty for an individual that is associated with attenuated benefit from acute stroke treatments and poorer outcomes after stroke.
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