Cerebrovascular Accident or CVA
Commonly called a stroke, cerebrovascular accident (CVA) is a sudden impairment of cerebral circulation in one or more of the blood vessels supplying the brain. CVA interrupts or diminishes oxygen supply and often causes serious damage or necrosis in brain tissues.
The sooner circulation returns to normal after CVA, the better chances are for complete recovery. However,about half of those who survive a CVA remain permanently disabled and experience a recurrence within weeks, months, or years.
CVA is the third most common cause of death in the United States today and the most common cause of neurologic disability. It strikes 500,000 persons each year; half of them die as a result
The causes of stroke are many and various. Every individual is different and therefore no one stroke is ever the same as another.
Signs and symptoms
The symptoms of a stroke depend on what part of the brain and how much of the brain tissue is affected. Stroke symptoms usually come on suddenly-in minutes to an hour. There is usually no pain associated with the symptoms. The symptoms may come and go, go away totally, or get worse over the course of several hours. Symptoms are usually classified according to the artery affected:
Confirmation of CVA is based on observation of clinical features, a history of risk factors, and the results of diagnostic tests.
Other baseline laboratory studies include urinalysis, coagulation studies, complete blood count, serum osmolality, and electrolyte, glucose, triglyceride, creatinine, and blood urea nitrogen levels.
Treatment options vary, depending on the type of CVA the patient experiences. Early medical diagnosis of the type of CVA coupled with new drug treatments can greatly reduce the long-term disability secondary to ischemia.
Surgery performed to improve cerebral circulation for patients with thrombotic or embolic CVA includes an endarterectomy (the removal of atherosclerotic plaque from the inner arterial wall) or a microvascular bypass (the surgical anastomosis of an extracranial vessel to an intracranial vessel).
Medications useful in treating CVA include:
Prevention is an important public health concern. Identification of patients with treatable risk factors for stroke is paramount.
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