(Cerebrovascular Accident; CVA; Cerebral Infarct; Brain Attack)
by Debra Wood, RN
Stroke is a brain injury. It occurs when the blood supply to the brain is interrupted. Without oxygen and nutrients from blood, brain tissue dies in less than 10 minutes. The tissue death causes a sudden loss in function.
A stroke occurs when there is a loss of blood flow. It may happen because of a blockage in blood flow, called ischemic stroke, or because of bleeding in the brain, called hemorrhagic stroke.
A sudden decrease in the flow of blood may be caused by:
Hemorrhagic stroke occur when blood vessels break and bleed into or around the brain. This can happen after an injury.
Risk Factors TOP
The following factors can increase your risk of stroke but the risk can be modified with lifestyle changes and proper medical care:
Other factors that can increase your risk of stroke but can not be modified include:
Symptoms occur suddenly. They differ depending on the part of the brain affected. Also, multiple symptoms can happen at the same time. If you notice any of the symptoms below, call emergency help right away. Getting help immediately is important, because brain tissue dies quickly when deprived of oxygen.
Having a stroke is an emergency. Tests may include:
Other tests may include:
Immediate treatment is needed to:
Treatment after immediate care will aim to:
Supportive care may also include:
Medications may include:
Other drugs may be given to help:
A surgery may be done to prevent damage or allow blood flow back into the affected area. Surgical options after a stroke include:
Other surgeries may be performed following a stroke or TIA to prevent a recurrence. These surgical options include:
Even though endarterectomy is more invasive, it may be preferred over angioplasty for some patients. Angioplasty may be an option for patients who are have a high risk of complications from CEA.
Rehabilitation can be an important part of your recovery. Rehabilitation may include:
Lifestyle changes that can help reduce your chance of getting a stroke include:
American Heart Association
National Stroke Association
Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada
Public Health Agency of Canada
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Last reviewed September 2012 by Rimas Lukas, MD
Last Updated: 09/30/2012