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Cerebrovascular accident

Published on March 24, 2022 at 8:00 / Updated on April 27, 2022 at 8:01

A cerebrovascular accident (stroke) occurs when an area of the brain is deprived of blood and oxygen. This part of the brain becomes damaged.

Symptoms come on suddenly and vary according to the area of the brain that is affected. Possible symptoms include the following:

  • Tingling in the limbs (e.g. arms, hands, legs)
  • Weakness or an inability to use a limb (e.g., inability to lift your arm)
  • Drooping of the lips or face
  • Confusion
  • Difficulty speaking normally
  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Loss of balance or coordination
  • Changes in vision

Causes and triggers

Strokes have two main causes:

  • A ruptured blood vessel in the brain.
  • A blockage in a blood vessel preventing the circulation of blood.

Several factors can affect your risk of having a stroke. Some can be modified to reduce your risk:

  • Smoking
  • High blood pressure
  • Diabetes
  • Abdominal obesity
  • Sedentary lifestyle
  • Mental stress (e.g., depression)
  • Poor diet

Treatment

Treatments are available in hospital depending on the type of stroke. Other medications will help prevent and treat complications.

In order to increase the chances of recovery, rehabilitation therapies are recommended (e.g., occupational or physical therapy).

Strokes are prevented by maintaining healthy lifestyle habits. The proper use of medications to treat high blood pressure, cholesterol, diabetes, and other heart conditions can also reduce the risk of stroke.

When should I see a health care professional?

Contact 911 immediately if you experience any symptoms in the FAST acronym:

  • Face: is it drooping?
  • Arms: can you raise both?
  • Speech: is it slurred or jumbled?
  • Time: to call 911 right away
For more information:
The Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada
www.heartandstroke.ca
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