Spring is here and you have been in the dark for so long. Enduring winter days with very little sun can affect even the most upbeat people. Light has a significance as it triggers the glands in the brain to raise hormones such as corticotropin stimulating hormone to signal the adrenal gland to raise your level of cortisol to say "wake up". Sunlight also warms the cells up.
Lack of light may cause depression or seasonal affective disorder. Many use blue light therapy to raise serotonin the amino acid which is your natural antidepressant. So Let there Be Light!!
You will notice me repeating myself on the website regarding nutrition. I talk about nutrition and how important it is in many of the biochemical reactions in the body to help you function or better yet "feel" better.
So why is an interventional radiologist talking about neurotransmitters (made up of amino acids)? The body is amazing! Life is not a snapshot..it is a continuous vignette of images turned into a movie of your life.
Have you ever experienced:
Loss of Mental Focus
Lack of Motivation
Low Sex Drive
Some of these symptoms may be due to neurotransmitter deficiency or excess, aneurysm, AVM (abnormal communication between an artery and vein), stroke, tumor or other vascular anomalies.
As an interventional radiologist and physician the first test your doctor will order is usually a CT scan of the brain with or without IV dye to rule out the bad things like a brain tumor, stroke, brain bleed, vascular anomaly or perhaps an aneurysm.
Additional testing may be required such as a MRI with various sequences to determine if there is a bleed, the age of the stroke, better visualization of the aneurysm, AVM, territory of the stroke etc.
An arteriogram (dye or contrast placed directly in the artery which outlines the blood vessels seen on the TV screen) may be performed by a neuro interventionalist to map out the vascular territory and create a plan of intervention for you in a safe and efficient fashion.
A tiny catheter and wire are placed in the artery in the groin which traverses the aorta (largest artery in the body) and continues into the carotid artery which provides blood flow through the various branches to the different sections of the brain. When we inject dye we see the outline of the blood vessel which can tell us where a blood vessel may be filled with a small clot thus causing a stroke, abnormal tuft of vessels causing an AVM, or an abnormal out pouching of an artery causing an aneurysm.
If you have an aneurysm we can place coils or glue into the aneurysm or bypass it with a stent graft. This prevents rupture of the aneurysm.
If you have had a stroke we can place a special device into the artery which contains the blood clot and suction the clot out as well as run special medicine called tPA also known as a chemical clot buster.
Blood flow through the carotid artery is significantly reduced when atherosclerotic plaque forms. Open surgery (carotid endarterectomy) vs endovascular surgery is recommended to remove the plaque and to restore blood flow. Plaque in the vertebral arteries, and even in arteries within the brain, can sometimes be treated surgically or with balloon angioplasty and stenting (endovascular) (as is done with arteries of the heart).
Today, the jury is out on open surgery vs surgery inside the blood vessel (endovascular). It depends on who you talk to. Common sense says if you are a surgeon you want to open up the body and perform surgery. If you are a Neuro interventionalist you want to perform an endovascular procedure using balloon angioplasty and stenting under image guidance because you can. These surgical procedures open arteries that are narrowed by plaque and improve the blood flow to the brain. Although balloon angioplasty (endovascular surgery) and stenting achieve the same results. You do the math.....
If you have an AVM we place a catheter into the arterial portion of the malformation and carefully place embolic particles, glue or onyx and stop the abnormal communication which otherwise may rupture in the brain at some point of time.
Now if the cause of your symptoms are not physical they may be biochemical......
As far as balancing those neurotransmitters with March madness take a saliva or urine test to determine your neurotransmitter levels with companies like Sanesco, Labrix or NeuroScience.
Neurotransmitters and hormones commonly measured are serotonin, dopamine, GABA, norepinephrine, epinephrine, glutamate, cortisol, DHEA and thyroid. A deficiency of any particular neurotransmitter not only affects neuronal function but also endocrine function anywhere in the body.
Our endocrine system is considered primary and critical to all metabolic function. Glands such as the thyroid, the adrenals, the ovaries and the testes all take direction from the brain. There are many conditions that negatively impact hormone levels, and when one hormone is imbalanced, there is a tendency for many other hormones to follow suit.
Correction of imbalanced hormones is important but not always sufficient. Correction of imbalanced neurotransmitters, on the other hand, is imperative if clinical progress is to be made. Determining which neurotransmitters are low and which are high should precede clinical intervention.
For instance, combining poor diet with a stressful life-style is a recipe for neurotransmitter imbalances and disaster. The types of food we crave (starches, chocolate or sweets) and the time of day we crave them (late afternoon or evening) may characterize specific neurotransmitter deficiencies. In fact, serotonin depletion is one of the most common neurotransmitter imbalances in our culture.