Strokes are cerebrovascular accidents, CVA for short. Strokes may occur from uncontrolled high blood pressure, but may also occur when blood clots block the major arteries to and in the brain cutting off oxygen. Hemorrhagic strokes may cause bleeding in the brain secondary to a ruptured artery. The most common cause is from severe hypertension. Other causes include aneurysm and malformations of arteries and veins in the brain. Ischemic or thrombotic strokes happen when blood clots block the carotid arteries or arteries in the brain because of fat deposits in the vessel lining (atherosclerosis). This cuts off or decreases blood flow to the brain. Embolic strokes usually result from blood clots elsewhere in the body like pulmonary embolism (PE) or deep vein thrombosis (DVT). Clots from the area involved migrate to the brain and block blood flow.
Mini strokes called transient ischemic attacks, TIAs for short, usually last a few hours. If longer than 24 hours, it is considered a CVA. The impairments that occur are not permanent. TIAs signal that one is at risk for a potential stroke with lifelong impairment.
Signs and symptoms of strokes include:
- Dizziness, lightheadedness
- Weakness or loss of function in arm, leg, face on one side
- Slurred speech or loss of speech
- Mental confusion or loss of consciousness
- Unsteady gait
The pseudonym FAST is a simple way to recognize general stroke symptoms. Face droops; Arm weakens; Speech difficulty; Time to call 911.
Risk factor reduction is a good way to protect yourself and prevent strokes. Keep your blood pressure in normal range. Eat low fat dpet to keep lipids low. Refrain from smoking. Stay active with regular exercise. Make less stress a priority as well. Best health!