Cerebrovascular incident

From WikiMD's Wellness Encyclopedia

Cerebrovascular Incident (also known as a stroke) is a medical condition that occurs when the blood supply to part of the brain is interrupted or reduced, depriving brain tissue of oxygen and nutrients. Within minutes, brain cells begin to die.

Causes

A cerebrovascular incident can be caused by a blocked artery (ischemic stroke) or the leaking or bursting of a blood vessel (hemorrhagic stroke). Some people may experience only a temporary disruption of blood flow to the brain (transient ischemic attack, or TIA) that doesn't cause permanent damage.

Ischemic Stroke

This is the most common type of stroke, making up about 87% of all cases. It occurs when a blood clot blocks the flow of blood and oxygen to the brain. These clots typically form in areas where arteries have been narrowed or blocked over time by fatty deposits (plaques), a process known as atherosclerosis.

Hemorrhagic Stroke

Hemorrhagic stroke occurs when a blood vessel in the brain leaks or ruptures. This can be caused by a number of conditions that affect the blood vessels, including uncontrolled high blood pressure (hypertension), overtreatment with anticoagulants and weak spots in the blood vessel walls (aneurysms).

Transient Ischemic Attack (TIA)

Also known as a mini-stroke, a TIA is a brief, temporary disruption of blood flow to the brain. It's often caused by atherosclerosis or blood clots — both of which can arise from various conditions, including heart disease and abnormal heart rhythms.

Symptoms

The symptoms of a cerebrovascular incident depend on the area of the brain that's been affected. Common symptoms include trouble with speaking and understanding, paralysis or numbness of the face, arm or leg, problems with seeing in one or both eyes, headache, and difficulty with walking.

Treatment

Treatment for stroke depends on whether it's ischemic or hemorrhagic. Treatment for ischemic stroke may include drugs to break up the clot and prevent others from forming. Hemorrhagic stroke treatment involves surgical repair of the bleeding vessel.

Prevention

Prevention includes controlling high blood pressure, quitting tobacco use, managing diabetes, and treating obstructive sleep apnea.

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Contributors: Prab R. Tumpati, MD