A stroke, also known as a cerebrovascular accident (CVA), occurs when the blood supply to part of the brain is interrupted or reduced, leading to damage or death of brain cells. Strokes can be caused by a blood clot blocking a blood vessel in the brain (ischemic stroke), or by a blood vessel rupturing and causing bleeding in the brain (hemorrhagic stroke).
The symptoms of a stroke can vary depending on the location and extent of the damage to the brain. Common symptoms of a stroke may include:
- Sudden numbness or weakness on one side of the body, including the face, arm, or leg
- Sudden confusion, trouble speaking, or difficulty understanding others
- Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes
- Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, or loss of balance or coordination
- Sudden severe headache with no known cause
Stroke is a medical emergency, and prompt treatment is essential to minimize damage to the brain and improve the chances of recovery. Treatment may involve medications to dissolve blood clots (for ischemic stroke), or surgery to repair or remove damaged blood vessels (for hemorrhagic stroke).
Prevention is also an important aspect of stroke management. Risk factors for stroke may include high blood pressure, high cholesterol, smoking, diabetes, and physical inactivity. Lifestyle modifications, such as a healthy diet, regular exercise, and smoking cessation, can help to reduce the risk of stroke. Certain medications may also be recommended for those at high risk of stroke.
If you suspect that you or someone else is experiencing a stroke, it is important to seek immediate medical attention. Remember the acronym FAST: Face drooping, Arm weakness, Speech difficulty, Time to call emergency services.