A stroke, sometimes referred to as a cerebrovascular accident (CVA), is the rapid loss of brain function due to disturbance in the blood supply to the brain. This can be due to lack of blood flow caused by blockage (a clot), or a haemorrhage.
As a result, the affected area of the brain cannot function, which might result in an inability to move one or more limbs on one side of the body, inability to understand or formulate speech, or an inability to see one side of the visual field.
A stroke is a medical emergency and can cause permanent neurological damage and death.
Risk factors for stroke include old age, high blood pressure, previous stroke or transient ischemic attack (TIA), diabetes, high cholesterol, tobacco smoking and atrial fibrillation. It is the second leading cause of death worldwide.
The most important modifiable risk factors for stroke are high blood pressure and atrial fibrillation Other modifiable risk factors include high blood cholesterol levels, diabetes, cigarette smoking (active and passive), heavy alcohol consumption and drug use, lack of physical activity, obesity, processed red meat consumption and unhealthy diet. Alcohol use could predispose to ischemic stroke, and bleeding into the brain via multiple mechanisms (for example via hypertension and clotting disturbances). Hypertension (high blood pressure) accounts for 35-50% of stroke risk. Blood pressure reduction of 10 mmHg systolic or 5 mmHg diastolic reduces the risk of stroke by ~40%.Lowering blood pressure has been conclusively shown to prevent both ischemic and haemorrhagic strokes
The drugs most commonly associated with stroke are cocaine, amphetamines causing haemorrhagic stroke, but also some over-the-counter cough and cold drugs.
Medical management for stroke includes advice on diet, exercise, smoking and alcohol use. Medication or drug therapy is the most common method of stroke prevention.