Cerebrovascular accident: Introduction
Cerebrovascular accident is a very serious condition in which the brain is not receiving enough oxygen to function properly. A cerebrovascular accident is also called CVA, brain attack, cerebral infarction or stroke.
A cerebrovascular accident often results in permanent serious complications and disability and is a common cause of death. Cerebrovascular accidents are the second leading cause of death worldwide and the third leading cause of death in the U.S., according to the American Heart Association.
The brain requires a steady supply of oxygen in order to pump blood effectively to all of the body. Oxygen is supplied to the brain in the blood that flows through arteries. In a cerebrovascular accident, one or more of these arteries becomes blocked or ruptures or begins to leak. This deprives a portion of the brain of vital oxygen-rich blood. This damage can become permanent within minutes and result in the death of the affected brain tissue. This is called cerebral necrosis.
There are two types of cerebrovascular accidents. An ischemic cerebrovascular accident occurs when a brain artery has been blocked. A hemorrhagic cerebrovascular accident occurs when an artery ruptures or leaks.
There are three primary causes of cerebrovascular accidents: cerebral thrombosis, cerebral embolism and cerebral hemorrhage.
A cerebrovascular accident caused by a cerebral thrombosis is the result of a build-up of plaque and inflammation in the arteries, called atherosclerosis. This process narrows the brain arteries and lowers the amount of oxygen-rich blood that reaches the brain tissue. Arteries narrowed by atherosclerosis are more likely to develop a blood clot that completely blocks blood flow to an area of the brain. Risk factors for atherosclerosis include having high cholesterol, diabetes, and hypertension.
Cerebrovascular accident cause by a cerebral embolism occurs when a clot forms in another part of the body and travels in the bloodstream to a brain artery, blocking the flow of blood to the brain. A cerebrovascular accident caused by cerebral hemorrhage occurs when a brain artery breaks or leaks blood into the surrounding brain tissue.
The extent of the damage done to the brain and resulting symptoms of a cerebrovascular accident vary depending on the type, the area or areas of the brain affected, and how much time passes before the cerebrovascular accident is treated. Complications of cerebrovascular accident include permanent neurological damage, disability and death. For more information on key hallmark symptoms and other complications, refer to symptoms of cerebrovascular accident.
Risk factors for a cerebrovascular accident include a having hypertension, heart disease, diabetes, high cholesterol and obesity. Other risk factors include being of African-American ancestry, being male, drinking excessive amounts of alcohol, smoking and having a family history of heart disease or cerebrovascular accident. Having a brain aneurysm puts a person at an extreme risk for a hemorrhagic cerebrovascular accident.
Making a diagnosis of cerebrovascular accident includes completing a complete medical evaluation and history and physical examination, including a neurological examination. This is often done in an emergency room.
Diagnostic testing includes imaging tests, such as a CT or MRI and cerebral angiogram of the brain. A cerebral angiogram is an imaging test that reveals obstructed or narrowed arteries in the brain and can show blood flow or obstruction through the arteries of the brain.
A battery of other tests are also performed to evaluate for other conditions that commonly occur with a cerebrovascular accident, such as heart disease and cardiac arrhythmia.
It is possible that a diagnosis of cerebrovascular accident can be missed or delayed because the symptoms may be mild and be similar to symptoms of other conditions and diseases. For more information about diseases and conditions that can mimic a cerebrovascular accident, refer to misdiagnosis of cerebrovascular accident.
If caught early, some cerebrovascular accidents can be successfully treated before the development of permanent brain damage and complications. For more information on specific treatment plans, refer to treatment of cerebrovascular accident. ...more »
There are various causes of stroke-like symptoms
including stroke, transient ischemic attacks (mini-strokes)
and several other serious ... more about Stroke symptoms.
Cerebrovascular accident: Occurs when the blood supply to the brain is interrupted and results in cell injury and death.
More detailed information about the symptoms,
causes, and treatments of Cerebrovascular accident is available below.
Cerebrovascular accident: Symptoms
Symptoms of a cerebrovascular accident differ depending on a variety of factors, including the cause and the type and size of the area of the brain that is affected. In some cases, symptoms may be mild and only include weakness, dizziness or headache. Symptoms such as these may also be warning symptoms of an impending cerebrovascular accident. These ...more symptoms »
Cerebrovascular accident: Treatments
The most effective cerebrovascular accident treatment plan uses a multifaceted approach. This includes preventive care aimed at minimizing the risk factors for having a cerebrovascular accident or a recurrent cerebrovascular accident. Preventive measures include regular medical care to monitor and address such risk factors as high cholesterol, obesity, smoking, ...more treatments »
Cerebrovascular accident: Misdiagnosis
In some cases a diagnosis of cerebrovascular accident may be overlooked or delayed because symptoms of cerebrovascular accident or of a transient ischemic attack may be mild or vague. Symptoms may also be similar to symptoms of other less serious conditions, such as aging, migraine headache, vertigo, orthostatic hypotension, acoustic neuroma, hypoglycemia, Bell's ...more misdiagnosis »
Symptoms of Cerebrovascular accident
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Treatments for Cerebrovascular accident
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Home Diagnostic Testing
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Cerebrovascular accident: Complications
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Causes of Cerebrovascular accident
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causes of Cerebrovascular accident
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Cerebrovascular accident: Undiagnosed Conditions
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Misdiagnosis and Cerebrovascular accident
Undiagnosed stroke leads to misdiagnosed aphasia: BBC News UK reported on a man who
had been institutionalized and treated for mental illness
because he suffered from...read more »
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Mild traumatic brain injury often remains undiagnosed: Although the symptoms
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The condition goes by...read more »
MTBI misdiagnosed as balance problem: When a person has symptoms
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Rare diseases misdiagnosed as Parkinson's disease: A rare genetic
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suffered a concussive injury in battle often were misdiagnosed on their...read more »
Children with migraine often misdiagnosed: A migraine often fails to be
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These patients are not the typical migraine...read more »
Vitamin B12 deficiency under-diagnosed: The condition of Vitamin B12 deficiency
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Read more about Misdiagnosis and Cerebrovascular accident
Cerebrovascular accident: Research Doctors & Specialists
Research related physicians and medical specialists:
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Hospitals & Clinics: Cerebrovascular accident
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for medical facilities in specialties related to Cerebrovascular accident:
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on hospital performance and surgical care quality:
Cerebrovascular accident: Rare Types
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Evidence Based Medicine Research for Cerebrovascular accident
Medical research articles related to Cerebrovascular accident include:
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Cerebrovascular accident: Animations
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Research about Cerebrovascular accident
Visit our research pages for current research about Cerebrovascular accident treatments.
Clinical Trials for Cerebrovascular accident
The US based website ClinicalTrials.gov lists information on both federally
and privately supported clinical trials using human volunteers.
Some of the clinical trials listed on ClinicalTrials.gov for Cerebrovascular accident include:
See full list of 440
Clinical Trials for Cerebrovascular accident
Cerebrovascular accident: Broader Related Topics
Types of Cerebrovascular accident
Cerebrovascular accident Message Boards
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Definitions of Cerebrovascular accident:
A sudden, nonconvulsive loss of neurologic function due to an ischemic or hemorrhagic intracranial vascular event. In general, cerebrovascular accidents are classified by anatomic location in the brain, vascular distribution, etiology, age of the affected individual, and hemorrhagic vs. nonhemorrhagic nature. (From Adams et al., Principles of Neurology, 6th ed, pp777-810)
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