The most common symptom of radiation-induced vasculopathy is a headache due to limited blood flow (ischemia) to the brain.
Ischemia can result in an ischemic stroke or transient ischemic attacks (TIA). If you notice one or more of these signs in another person or in yourself, do not wait to seek help. Call 9-1-1 immediately.
The signs of a stroke are:
- Sudden numbness or weakness of the face, arm or leg, especially on one side of the body
- Sudden confusion
- Sudden trouble speaking
- Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes
- Sudden trouble walking
- Sudden dizziness, loss of balance or coordination
- Sudden, severe headache with no known cause
The effects of an acute ischemic stroke may cause additional symptoms in women including:
- Face, arm or leg pain
- Hiccups or nausea
- Chest pain or palpitations
- Shortness of breath
Radiation-induced vasculopathy can also result in sudden bleeding in the brain, known as a hemorrhagic stroke. Symptoms of a hemorrhagic stroke include:
- Numbness, weakness or inability to move (paralysis) of the face, arm or leg, especially on one side of the body
- Trouble seeing in one or both eyes, such as dimness, blurring, double vision or loss of vision
- Confusion or trouble speaking
- Trouble walking, dizziness or loss of balance or coordination
- Severe headache with no known cause
Causes and Risk Factors
Radiation-induced vasculopathy is caused by radiation treatment for another condition such as a brain tumor. The radiation causes the affected blood vessels to narrow and this limits the blood flow to the area. Therefore, patients who have had radiation treatment are at an increased risk of developing the condition.
Radiation-induced vasculopathy can occur in both men and women at any age. However, symptoms of the condition usually are first noticed in patients under the age of 18. Symptoms tend to occur six to eight years after radiation treatment was administered.