Cerebrovascular accident: Get informed

Cerebrovascular accident (commonly known as stroke) is the obstruction and/or rupture of blood vessels in the brain. There are two main forms of this disease: cerebral infarction and cerebral hemorrhage.

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Cerebrovascular accident

Cerebral Infarction and Cerebral Hemorrhage

A cerbral infarction results from an artery becoming blocked. It can be caused by an atheromatous plaque, as is the case with Cerebral Venous Thrombosis, or by the formation of a blood clot, as is the case with cerebral embolism. Occlusion can also occur in several arterioles (small arteries) and is frequently observed in diabetic or hypertensive patients. The obstruction of the artery prevents oxygen from reaching the nerve cells, resulting in their death.

Cerebral hemorrhage is the most serious type of stroke in terms of sequelae (long-term consequences and complications resulting from a stroke) and mortality. It most often is caused from the rupture of an artery in the brain. This rupture deprives the brain of oxygen and results in the compression of brain tissue. The nerve cells are then damaged or even destroyed. The first cause of cerebral hemorrhage is high blood pressure.

Symptoms of a stroke

The symptoms of a stroke depend on the area of the brain affected and the severity of the lesions. The occurrence of a stroke is brutal and there are no warning signs. Among the most frequently encountered symptoms are:

- Problems with speech and vision
- A loss of balance
- A loss of sensitivity that can lead to the paralysis of a limb, face or side of the body (hemiplegia)
- Severe headaches, without an apparent cause.

The symptoms can be very brief if the obstruction of the artery is temporary. This is known as transient ischemic attack (TIA). TIA is a warning signal and requires immediate medical attention.

                                       Risk Factors and Stroke Treatments

The two main risk factors for stroke are high blood pressure and high cholesterol. However, many other factors can lead to strokes, such as:

- a history of strokes or TIA
- cardiovascular diseases (heart failure, myocardial infarction...)
- diabetes
- migraines or sleep apnea
- smoking
- obesity
- an unbalanced diet- physical inactivity
- excessive consumption of alcohol

Therefore, prevention is a key factor in reducing the potential for having a stroke. The French Federation of Cardiology places particular emphasis on the importance of reducing risk factors for high blood pressure, mainly smoking and obesity.

What to do after a stroke?

A stroke is a medical emergency and requires hospitalization. A stroke can potentially be fatal and if care is delayed, the consequences can be much more severe. The primary goal is to restore blood flow in the case of cerebral infarction and to contain the flow of blood in the case of cerebral hemorrhage.

A cerebral infarction often requires the prescription of an anticoagulant. In the case of hemorrhage, surgery is necessary to heal the aneurysm and remove the accumulated blood within the brain tissue. In addition, an angioplasty (operation to dilate the artery) may be considered in order to reduce the risk of a recurrence. These treatments are combined with re-education to promote patient recovery.

 

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