A stroke (also known as a cerebrovascular accident (CVA)) is a medical emergency characterized by rapidly developing loss of brain functions secondary to a disturbance in the blood supply to the brain. A stroke can cause permanent neurological damage, permanent complications, or death. Stroke can be divided into two main categories: ischemic and hemorrhagic.
Signs and symptoms of a stroke are related to the area of the brain that affected. Typically, symptoms start suddenly, usually over seconds to minutes. Except for subarachnoid hemorrhage (SAH), cerebral venous thrombosis, and sometimes intra-cerebral hemorrhage, headache does not present in most forms of stroke. If a person has a sudden-onset of facial weakness, abnormal speech, and arm drift (arms drift downward when asked to raise them), a stroke should be suspected. These three manifestations are quite useful for early recognition, and may be very valuable in the acute setting. Other symptoms may also occur according to the area affected, such as numbness, hemiplegia, muscle weakness of the face, limb or body weakness, decreased reflexes, altered breathing and heart rates, drooping of eyelid, aphasia, apraxia, disorganized thinking, altered gait, vertigo, and memory deficits.
Treatment for a stroke varies according to the nature of the stroke: that is, whether it is ischemic (thromboembolic), or a hemorrhagic. Timely admission to a stroke unit will increase the chance of surviving of a stroke patient. Treatments for an ischemic stroke include: medical thrombolysis, mechanicalclot removal, angioplasty and stenting, and therapeutic hypothermia.
Stroke prevention is ultimately the best treatment.
To treat the cause of the bleeding is important for a hemorrhagic stroke. Surgery and medication may both be used in treating a hemorrhagic stroke. Rehabilitation therapy can help patients with disabling stroke return to normal life as fully and quickly as possible, as well as prevent secondary complications. Stem cll therapy may prove to have a role in restoring some lost CNS functions.