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What Is Cerebral Hypoperfusion?

By Karize Uy
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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Cerebral hypoperfusion is a medical condition wherein the brain experiences a decrease of blood supply. It is often associated with cerebral hypoxia, in which the brain receives an insufficient supply of oxygen carried by the blood. Medically speaking, cerebral hypoperfusion is the opposite of cerebral hyperperfusion, an increase of blood flow in the brain that can cause a hemorrhage.

Some symptoms of this condition are dizziness, hearing difficulties, and vision problems such as blurring, dimming, or a total “blackout." If the condition persists, the patient may also sweat excessively, turn pale, and have nausea that makes him feel like vomiting. In severe cases, loss of consciousness may occur.

In other disorders or conditions, cerebral hypoperfusion can be a cause, such as in strokes and cerebral palsy. In strokes, the loss of blood results in a decreased activity in some parts of the brain that control limb movements, vision, or speech; thus a person experiencing a stroke is often immobilized. In cerebral palsy, the hypoperfusion often happens during pregnancy or in early childhood, specifically in the part of the brain that controls motor activity. As a result, patients with cerebral palsy are often physically disabled, as the insufficient blood supply causes permanent damage to a developing brain.

Cerebral hypoperfusion can also be experienced as a symptom or an effect of an underlying disorder. Such is the case in postural tachycardia syndrome (PTS) that causes a reduction of blood supply in the brain when the patient changes from one position to another. Hypoperfusion experienced in PTS can affect a patient’s cognition and even his emotions, leading to decreased concentration and a depressive state. A type of hypotension called orthostatic hypotension, or head rush in layman’s term, also causes many symptoms associated with cerebral hypoperfusion, like dizziness and visual impairment. Aside from the brain, muscles and other organs can also experience hypoperfusion, felt as neck pains, tightness of chest, and difficulty in breathing.

Many studies have shown that there may be a connection between cerebral hypoperfusion and diseases that weaken a patient’s cognitive skills. In 2005, a study recruited groups of “elderly subjects”: one group of subjects had Alzheimer’s disease, while the other group was labeled “cognitively normal.” Both groups were given magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans. Results from the scans showed those with Alzheimer’s exhibited substantial hypoperfusion on the right side of the brain as compared to those who were cognitively normal. In 1994, an experiment involving rats revealed that chronic hypoperfusion may produce more neuronal damage than acute hypoperfusion.

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Discussion Comments
By anon996041 — On Jun 30, 2016

Hi Anon295930 You are not alone! Many young people have this issue! Let me guess: you sleep seven or less hours at night. The number one thing to do (sorry if this is a no-brainer) is focus on sleeping 8-9 hours per night, all in one stretch. Teens require 9 hours, but few get more than 7.

What to do at night:

(1) Do a digital curfew. Shut off your devices at least 30 minutes before bed! This is very hard but the payoff is great. When you sleep, put the devices across the room and cover any flashing lights. Light emitted from LCD's/ LED's is called Blue Light and it interferes with our body's production of melatonin, which makes us drowsy (taking melatonin supplements makes our body dependent and less able to produce its own). There are some ridiculous-looking orange glasses you can wear late in the evening to block the blue light, but you can also check out f.lux, which causes your devices to automatically reduce blue light at a set time.

(2) Lavender, jasmine and chamomile (as potpourri, as oil, or as tea) have been reported to help with relaxation before bed.

(3) Try not to eat right before bedtime; your body can focus better on doing cellular repair and regeneration if it's not too busy digesting food during the night! If you're genuinely hungry at bedtime, eat a light healthy snack, just enough to take the hunger away, but not enough to make you really full. (If you slip and eat too much, be sure to sleep slightly propped up, or on your left side, as this has been found to help the stomach empty faster.)

(4) If you seem to wake at night to go to the bathroom, try to avoid drinking anything one hour before bed. Be sure to drink 6-8 glasses of pure water during the day though! Dehydration causes fatigue.

What to do during the day (besides drinking plenty of water):

(1) Nutrient deficiencies can cause fatigue, so eat a wide variety of foods that are nutrient-dense, avoiding junk as much as possible. Eat "whole" foods with one or few ingredients (e.g. a carrot, an apple, a hard-boiled egg, some chicken, a banana, a salad, some nuts). Try to avoid processed foods in wrappers and boxes that have long, unintelligible ingredient lists (fast food definitely falls under this category!). Make sure you eat B vitamin-containing foods, which help us convert food into energy. B12 is only found in meat/poultry/eggs/diary. Eat as many dark leafy greens as you can; they're rich in folate, or 5-THF (folic acid, the most common synthetic pill form, often isn't usable for those w/ mitochondrial problems).

(2) Try doing a little exercise each day, so your body will be tired at bedtime (any amount at all is better than none so be encouraged!).

(3) Some people can't use carbs and sugar for energy due to mitochondrial dysfunction (hypoperfusion and fatigue are symptoms of this dysfunction). Carbs make them sleepy. (I wonder if you feel sleepy after eating high-carb snacks and meals?) The good news is that our bodies-including our hearts and brains- can also use ketones (from fat) for energy! (Some even say ketones are a preferred energy source.) A ketogenic diet can be helpful for mitochondrial dysfunction. Experiment to see if eating less sugar and starches (and more good fats like avodado, olive oil, salmon, nuts and nut butters) helps you feel better. Avocado is great with ripe banana in a smoothie (using frozen sliced banana gives the smoothie the right "chilled" temperature without having to use ice). The bonus: fat helps us utilize fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K. If you think you might be addicted to sugar, scale down gradually, starting with liquid sugar (coffee drinks, sodas, sports drinks, vitamin waters etc.) since those are the worst offenders. Unsweetened tea is a great alternative! Nuts and seeds (and bars made from them) are your best friend, as you can carry them around with you in the event of food emergencies. Many fruits are portable too. Just pack as much nutrition into every calorie as you can.

All the best to you!

By anon988691 — On Feb 13, 2015

I have this. It goes along with the POTS that I have. I get blurred vision, dizziness, blackouts where I can't see anything but black, and I pass out. I am on meds and I get weekly IV fluid infusions to help keep my blood volume levels up.

By anon952572 — On May 21, 2014

A Doppler ultrasound is used to measure blood flow seated or supine, then standing, if I understand the procedure.

By Phoenix4Ever — On Sep 06, 2013

Try looking up thiamine and autonomic nervous system for a study published on October 1, 2012. It's a thiamine deficiency. I used to have POTS syndrome and still do, but now after supplementing with a bio-actively available form of thiamine everyday such as benfotiamine, I no longer pass out and have racing bouts of tachycardia in my heart.

By anon339764 — On Jun 26, 2013

The best way to get a diagnoses, and also the way I got mine, is through a SPECT scan.

By anon336045 — On May 25, 2013

I have Celiac. I get seizures during the night. They have decreased in frequency, but have been observed and I am told they are grand mal. I wake from a sound sleep. My eyes turn upward and to the right. My head slowly turns to the right. I start frothing at the mouth and am unable to swallow or call for help. I lose consciousness and wake with the right side of my tongue severely bitten.

On an everyday basis, I have experienced problems with speech and with clarity of thought and memory. Once or twice I have experienced odd loss of emotions, like laughter and tears for no reason. They clear up quickly.

MRIs have been taken but only weeks after a seizure occurs. They show some vein abnormalities in the right temporal lobe, but these do not seem to have changed over the past two or three years.

Is there something I can ask my doctor to check to come to a diagnosis on this?

By anon331727 — On Apr 24, 2013

You need a tilt test to determine this. A Neuro doctor will be able to perform it to determine if it is p.o.t.s.

By anon295930 — On Oct 09, 2012

I'm 15 and I think I have this. Do I have autonomic dysfunction? I took an MRI and it was normal. No one can understand how I am feeling in this state. I don't know what to do.

I get home from school every day and sleep two or three hours. I can't concentrate on school anymore. It's getting hard and I am in top classes. Simple tasks in school are so tiring to my brain. How do I seek help or is there a diagnosis for this?

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