Stroke - Cerebral Vascular Accidents

A stroke (Cerebral Vascular Accidents) is the local absence of adequate blood flow needed to remove waste nutrients and in turn supply oxygen and nutrients. When these deficiencies happen brain cells die.

­The result can be paralysis, speech impairment, memory and reasoning ability loss, coma and death.

One-half million of the Unites State’s population experience new or recurrent strokes each year. It is the third leading cause of death, over 140.000 Americans each year. There are three billion direct and productivity dollar losses and the leading cause of disability.

The risk factors have to do with age, sex, heredity, predisposing diseases, other medical conditions, certain medications and lifestyle choices. Stroke risks increase with age, doubling for each decade after age 55. Men are more likely to stroke than women. Obesity, high blood cholesterol level, sustained high blood pressure and smoking increases that risk.

The symptoms, that usually come on suddenly and often intensely, are the blurring or decreased vision in one or both eyes, severe headaches and weakness or numbness. There can be paralysis confined to one side of the face, arm or leg. Other symptoms can be dizziness, loss of balance or coordination and can be accompanied with the other systems mentioned.

Strokes require immediate attention and are considered an emergency. A neurological exam is performed to identify the degree and location of the stroke or strokes through a computed tomography scan, CT scan, formed to locate the blockage. If the event is considered to have occurred less than three hours thrombolytic therapy is performed to dissolve the clot. A computed tomography scan (CT) or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan is done to determine if the stroke was caused by a blood clot or a hemorrhage in order to establish the type of therapy to administer.

Rehabilitation involves a comprehensive program designed to target lost functions as much as possible and to compensate for permanent losses. Ten percent of stroke survivors recover without significant disability allowing for independently functionally. Another ten percent are more severely affected and must remain institutionalized for severe disability. The remaining eighty percent can return home with appropriate therapy.­


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