Cerebrovascular Accident (CVA) or stroke is a medical condition that occurs when blood flow to one part of the brain is impaired due to either an obstruction (from blood clots) or a rupture of a blood vessel (aneurysm).
In the disease process of stroke, the blockage or blood vessel rupture leads to the impairment of oxygenation in the brain, which greatly affects other processes in the body. According to Reader’s Digest, the brain loses approximately 1.9 million cells in every minute of a stroke and every hour a stroke goes unresolved puts an additional three and a half years to the brain’s age. When stroke or its signs are not attended, the higher the chances of behavioral changes, memory loss, and difficulties will be.
Stroke has five warning signs, which are all associated with the oxygenation impairment in the brain. These signs comprise of numbness of the arm, face, or leg, which is usually on one side of the body due to a compressed nerve. Another sign is sudden confusion, along with difficulty in speaking, or understanding speech. The person may also experience eyesight problems. With regard to movement, the warning sign is sudden trouble walking, loss of balance or coordination, which can be accompanied by dizziness. A sudden severe headache may also be present in some cases; however the cause is idiopathic or unknown.
The American Heart Association summarizes the warning signs of stroke using the acronym FAST (face drooping, arm weakness, speech difficulty, and time to call 911). It is important to check if one side of the face droop or is numb, which can be done by asking the person to smile. If the person’s smile is uneven, one may begin suspecting for an impeding stroke. To check for arm weakness or numbing, the person may be asked to raise both arms. If one arm drifts, downward, then begin to suspect. Speech difficulty can be characterized by slurred speeach, inability to speak, or inability to comprehend. The person may be asked to repeat a simple sentence like “The sky is blue” and check if it is correctly repeated. It should be noted that even the symptoms subside, 911 should still be contacted to bring the person to the hospital immediately. In addition, the time of the symptoms’ onset should also be checked and noted for reference.
The symptoms of stroke are dependent to the area of the affected brain, according to Medicine Net. A case in point is the weakness or loss of function of a right limb due to a left brain affectation. Conversely, the left side of the body may experience weakness or paralysis if the right side of the brain is affected.
The treatment plan for cerebrovascular accident involves management of blood pressure, control of blood sugar, use of medications like anticoagulants, and administration of oxygen. Mount Sinai Stroke Center New York City director Carolyn Brockington told Reader’s Digest that stroke was scary and denial was the biggest factor in delaying treatment. She added that when she asked stroke patients in the emergency room why they had waited to call 911, the most common response was they had wanted to see if it would have gone away. It is should be remembered that the earlier time stroke is detected, the better the treatment options would be.
According to the American Heart Association, 911 or other emergency medical services should be immediately contacted if a person demonstrated any of the aforementioned symptoms.