What is it?
Cerebrovascular Accident (CVA) commonly known as a stroke, occurs in the blood supply to the brain when a blood vessel bursts or is blocked by a clot.
Almost all strokes are ischemic, which means that a blood clot obstructs a vessel in the brain. The clot can develop in the brain or travel there from another area of the body.
Hemorrhagic strokes are not as common, but are more likely to be fatal. This occurs when a weak blood vessel in the brain bursts. Often, the bleeding is difficult to stop.
A transient ischemic attack, commonly known as a “mini-stroke,” occurs when blood flow to the brain is temporarily interrupted. This causes symptoms similar to a stroke. The symptoms stop when the blood flows again but this “mini-stroke” is a warning sign that a stroke may soon occur.
Signs and symptoms of a CVA
• Sudden numbness or weakness of the body, especially on one side.
• Sudden vision changes in one or both eyes, or difficulty swallowing.
• Sudden, severe headache for no reason.
• Sudden problems with dizziness, walking, or balance.
• Sudden confusion, difficulty speaking or understanding others.
F.A.S.T is a good tool that anyone can use to assess for a stroke
• Face. Can you smile? Does one side of the face droop?
• Arms. Hold up your arms, does one side drop down?
• Speech. Can the person repeat a simple sentence? Do they slur words?
• Time. Time is critical.
What to do?
Every second counts when seeking treatment for a stroke. Brain cells will begin dying in minutes when they have no oxygen. If brain tissue dies, the limbs controlled by that part of the brain will not work properly. This is often why stroke causes long-term disability.
• High blood pressure
• High cholesterol
• Getting too little exercis
• Heavy use of alcohol
• Family history
How is it diagnosed?
A CT (computerized tomography) scan can help doctors determine whether symptoms are coming from a blocked blood vessel, or from a bleeding vessel. Additional tests may also detect the location of a blood clot or bleeding within the brain.
Common problems after a stroke include numbness and/or weakness in arms or legs, difficulty walking, vision problems, trouble swallowing, and problems with speech and comprehension. These problems can be permanent, but many people regain most of their abilities.
A stroke is commonly caused by atherosclerosis which is hardening of the arteries. Eating too much fat and having high cholesterol can lead to narrowed arteries. This is because plaque made of fat, cholesterol, calcium and other substances builds up in the arteries so there is not enough room for blood to flow.
Too much salt can also lead to high blood pressure. Too many calories can lead to obesity. A diet high in fruits, vegetables, whole grains and fish may help lower stroke risk.
• Quit smoking.
• Exercise and maintain a healthy weight.
• Limit alcohol and salt intake.
• Eat a healthier diet with more vegetables, fish, and whole grains.
Act FAST and do not let a CVA be your unlucky stroke!