A cerebrovascular disease is an arterial complication of the cerebral circulation, or in simple words a disorder that affects the blood vessels that provide oxygen rich blood to a person’s brain. The term is commonly used to describe a hardening of carotid arteries that supply blood to the brain and can result in a number of complications, most commonly a stroke that can potentially lead up to vascular dementia. Strokes are common mostly among elderly (over two-thirds of cases occur in those over 65 years), and while they aren’t unheard of among children, they are rare – less than 3 per lakh children every year.The symptoms of a stroke are usually permanent, and long-term complications can include loss of bladder control.Consult neurologist to get second opinion.
The Most Common Types of Strokes are:
This is the most common form and is usually caused by thrombosis or emboli from a proximal arterial source that leads to the brain being starved of oxygen. The neurologic signs and symptoms typically last longer than 24 hours, and the brain infarction is mainly demonstrated by imaging techniques (MRI or CT Scan).
Transient Ischemic Attack (TIA)
Also called a mini-stroke, in this condition the blood flow is restored quickly enough that the brain tissues fully recover, and the symptoms disappear on their own.Typically, a brain imaging will find no traces of infraction and all neurologic signs and symptoms will be resolved within 24 hours.
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This is characterized by leakage of blood directly into or around the brain, which either results in toxic effects of blood on the brain tissue or an increased intracranial pressure. Symptoms could take from hours up to days to manifest and cause the person to experience a coma.
Following are the most common symptoms of a stroke:
- A Severe and Sudden Headache
- Paralysis of one side (Hemiplegia) or Weakness on One Side (Hemiparesis)
- Confusion, Difficulty Communicating, including slurred speech
- Loss of Half of Vision, or Balance, or Consciousness
Unfortunately, the stroke almost always shows symptoms after the occurrence, making prevention more difficult, but there are a lot of risk factors that can be managed.
Most common risk factors include:
- Age and family history of stroke
- Hypertension, or blood pressure of 140/90 mm Hg or above
- Lifestyle issues including smoking, obesity, poor diet, and lack of exercise
- Diabetes and high blood cholesterol of 240 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL) or over
- A Congenital defect, or a Head Trauma
- Medical conditions including moyamoya disease, venous angiomas, or a vein of Galen malformation
- Certain drugs and medical conditions that make the blood more likely to clot
In addition, a Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) may also increase the risk in those who already have carotid artery disease.The warning signs of stroke can be recognized and acted upon by following the acronym F.A.S.T., which was propounded by the American Stroke Association, and stands for following:
Ask the person to smile; if one side of the face does not seem to be moving, the person may be suffering a stroke attack
Ask the person to lift both arms; if one arm goes significantly higher than the other, the person may be suffering a stroke attack
Ask the person to say a simple sentence such as “My name is XYZ”, if the speech is not legible, the person may be suffering a stroke attack
Time to Act
If the person fails one or more of the tests above, it is time to call an ambulance
Anyone suffering showing symptoms of a stroke, urgent medical attention must be provided immediately, as the attack can have long-term effects including cognitive impairment and dementia. On the other hand, a stroke, if detected within 3 to 4.5 hours, may be treatable with a medication that can break down the clot.