A CVA (cerebrovascular accident) is the medical name for a stroke, which is something that happens when the oxygen supply to parts of the brain is interrupted or cut off completely. Strokes can happen for a variety of reasons and are considered to be a medical emergency. However, being aware of the signs and symptoms of CVA can help ensure that your loved one receives prompt medical treatment, which can reduce the level of damage and lessen the risk of serious complications.
What are the common signs and symptoms of CVA?
A classic sign of a stroke is when the person experiences sudden paralysis or numbness down one side of their body or face. You may notice one side of their face begin to droop, or one arm might stop working. If in doubt, ask the person to lift both arms above their head—if one of their arms starts to drop, it could be because they are having a CVA.
Depending on which part of the brain is affected, the person may have trouble speaking or understanding things said to them. They might try to speak, but slur their words or find it hard to form a coherent sentence to explain what is happening. The medical term for this is “aphasia” and it can be a symptom of a stroke.
Other signs and symptoms of CVA
If the part of the brain responsible for coordination and motor skills is affected by the stroke, the person may stumble or fall over because of dizziness or a sudden loss of balance and coordination. Any sudden loss of motor skills is cause for concern as it could be the result of a stroke.
Strokes can often affect vision and if the person says their eyesight is suddenly blurred, or they are seeing two of everything, they might be having a stroke. Vision can also turn black.
A sudden and very severe headache can be the result of a stroke. If severe head pain is accompanied by vomiting, the person is delirious or in and out of consciousness, or is complaining of dizziness, consider that they could be having a stroke.
The left side of the brain controls the right hand side of the body, so if the right side of the face droops or the person becomes numb or paralyzed down the right side of their body, it could be because there is a problem with the blood supply to the LHS of their brain.
Signs and symptoms of TIA
A TIA is a transient ischemic attack, also known as a mini-stroke. TIAs can often be a precursor to a major stroke, but unlike a major CVA, the symptoms of a TIA are only temporary. A person experiencing a TIA will suffer the same symptoms as a person having a stroke, but these symptoms will typically come and go. However, unless treatment is sought, there is every chance that the patient will go on to have a major stroke, with potentially catastrophic results, so it is very important that a course of treatment is started as soon as possible.