Cerebrovascular Accident / CVA / Stroke

Cerebrovascular accident (stroke or CVA)
is a medical condition is also known as a stroke and, in other times, brain attack. It is caused by sudden lesions in the brain, often occurring in the older population, ages 60 and above. It can be fatal if medical attention is not sought immediately.

What is stroke

Cerebrovascular accidents (CVA or stroke) occur as a result of blocked or ruptured blood vessels in and of the brain. The blockage stops blood flow and cuts oxygen supply to the brain cells, while ruptured blood vessels cause blood to spill into the brain leading to the compression of its cells, both invariably damaging or killing those cells. 
The death of the brain cells causes a loss of the body functions they control.

What are the types of stroke

  • Ischemic stroke is caused by a blood clot that blocks or plugs a blood vessel in the brain. This is the most common type; about 80 percent of strokes are ischemic.
  • Hemorrhagic stroke is caused by a blood vessel that breaks and bleeds into the brain

What are the risk factors of stroke 

The following are predisposing factors:

  • Old age (60 years and above)
  • High blood pressure/hypertension
  • Diabetes/ high blood sugar
  • Heart disease such as coronary artery disease, atrial fibrillation
  • Obesity/ high blood cholesterol
  • Smoking cigarette
  • Alcohol and drug intake
  • Family history of stroke
  • Sedentary lifestyle
  • Gender (males are at a higher risk for stroke than females)

What are the causes of stroke

Cerebrovascular accident (CVA) can be caused by the following:
  • Blood clot: this is medically referred to as thrombus. This can cause a stroke when it blocks a blood vessel supplying the brain (an artery). Usually, when blood clots are formed, they swim in the bloodstream and can become an obstruction. Stroke as a result of blood clots is called a thrombotic stroke.
  • Fatty plaque: when fat tissue that lines the walls of the blood vessels breaks away and gets caught in a blood vessel supplying the brain, it blocks it. This deprives the brain of oxygen, thus causing an embolic stroke.
Note that embolic stroke and thrombotic stroke are both classified as ischaemic stroke.

  • A ruptured blood vessel: too much pressure within the vessels can result in rupture, as seen in hypertension. This results in blood spilling into the brain tissue, causing compression and damage to blood cells.

What are the symptoms of stroke

Symptoms are dependent on the type of brain cells affected and the degree of damage done to the cells.  
  • Paralysis (inability to move) or numbness (inability to feel) in a/some parts of the face and limbs, usually on a side of the body.
  • Dystonia (a muscle movement disorder)
  • Problems with walking or uncoordinated movements
  • Severe headache and dizziness
  • Confusion
  • Alexia (difficulty in comprehending written words)
  • Impaired vision (blurred/doubled)
  • Impaired speech
  • Difficulty in swallowing

How can you prevent stroke

  • Diet modification: this includes eating a healthy and balanced diet. Such a diet entails low fat, low sugar, and salt quantities.
  • Blood pressure monitoring and control: this keeps high blood pressure in check. If hypertensive, use prescribed medications.
  • Diabetes monitoring and control: monitor your blood sugar and use your medications according to doctor's prescription if diabetic.
  • Blood cholesterol monitoring and control.
  • Quit smoking
  • Avoid alcohol intake and illicit drugs
  • Treat any underlying heart disease and take precautions.

Home remedies to reduce symptoms of stroke

  • Seek medical attention Immediately it is an emergency.
Home remedies that improve stroke symptoms include:
  • Intake of Vitamins: vitamin B12 is vital to the metabolic functions of cells, which might be affected by stroke. Consumption of this water-soluble vitamin also helps maintain the health of brain and nerve tissues by increasing fatty acids absorption. It can be found in foods like milk, meat, fish, egg as well as vitamin B12 supplements. Vitamin B6 is another water-soluble vitamin that helps improve the symptoms of people affected with stroke.
  • Vitamin C has been proven to be a natural antioxidant. This implies it helps get rid of free radicals that act as contributory factors to having a stroke. Also, vitamin C is essential in tissue repair and building immunity.
  • Intake of turmeric and ginger: while they are usually used as spices, they have been found to treat stroke. They help reduce body cholesterol levels, improve blood circulation, and prevent blood clots.
  • Intake of fish oil: this is a rich source of omega-3 fatty acids which helps treat stroke. It also helps in the prevention of coronary heart disease, a risk factor for stroke and other blood vessel-related diseases.

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