Cerebrovascular accident (cva)

Head | Emergency Medicine | Cerebrovascular accident (cva) (Disease)


A Cerebrovascular accident (CVA), also called a stroke, is the condition characterized by a rapid loss of the brain function caused by a disturbance in the blood supply to the brain.

There are two types of stroke. The most common type, ischemic stroke results from blockage in an artery. The other type, hemorrhagic stroke occurs when a blood vessel leaks or bursts. Ischemic strokes may be caused by clogged arteries. Fat, cholesterol, and other substances collect on the artery walls, forming a sticky substance called plaque.

The symptoms of stroke depend on what part of the brain is damaged. In some cases, a person may not know that he or she has had a stroke. A headache may occur, especially if the stroke is caused by bleeding in the brain. Symptoms may include: confusion or loss of memory; difficulty swallowing; difficulty writing or reading; dizziness or abnormal feeling of movement (vertigo); loss of balance and of coordination; numbness or tingling on one side of the body, trouble speaking and walking.

Causes and Risk factors

A hemorrhagic stroke occurs when a blood vessel in part of the brain becomes weak and bursts open, causing blood to leak into the brain.

Stroke risk factors include: personal or family history of stroke, heart attack; high blood pressure; high cholesterol; smoking or exposure to secondhand smoke; diabetes; being overweight or obese; physical inactivity; cardiovascular disease, including heart failure, a heart defect, heart infection, or abnormal heart rhythm; use of birth control pills or hormone therapies that include estrogen; heavy or binge drinking; use of illicit drugs such as cocaine and methamphetamines.

Diagnosis and Treatment

In order to help determine the cause of a suspected stroke a CT scan or MRI of the brain are often performed.

Emergency treatment for stroke depends on whether youre having an ischemic stroke blocking an artery or a hemorrhagic stroke involving bleeding into the brain. To treat an ischemic stroke, doctors must quickly restore blood flow to your brain. Emergency treatment of hemorrhagic stroke focuses on controlling your bleeding and reducing pressure in the brain. Surgery also may be used to help reduce future risk. ...

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