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September 13, 2015


Also referred to as Moyamoya syndrome, Moyamoya disease is a rare but serious condition that mainly affects children and adolescents. It causes the walls of the carotid arteries to thicken and narrow, blocking normal blood flow to the brain. As a result, young patients with Moyamoya disease are at an extremely high risk for developing blood clots and mini strokes. While the exact cause of Moyamoya disease remains unknown, genetics have been linked as a possible factor. The condition was first discovered in Japan, where occurrences of Moyamoya are higher, however individuals in North America, as well as Europe and other areas, are also affected.

Some of the signs and symptoms associated with Moyamoya disease are often consistent with those of a stroke. They tend to either appear gradually and lessen over time, or emerge suddenly and continue to increase. Symptoms can include:

  • Headaches
  • Impaired vision
  • Seizures
  • Slurred speech
  • Weakness on one of side of the body

Brain hemorrhage is not common in children with Moyamoya, but is more likely to occur in adults who may have the condition. Some of the signs to watch out for in adults include nausea or vomiting, feeling fatigue, vision difficulty, intense head pain, and loss of feeling in part of the body.

As far as long-term treatment options are concerned, surgery is often the most practical choice, especially for children who may be suffering from progressive loss of blood flow to certain parts of the brain. Medication can also be beneficial for managing symptoms and improving quality of life on a daily basis. These can sometimes include blood thinners such as aspirin, as well as calcium channel blockers such as verapamil. Additionally, rehabilitation and other types of therapies can be effective for those dealing with neurological issues, such as speech impairment or paralysis.