Stroke, also known as cerebrovascular accident (CVA), cerebrovascular insult (CVI), or brain attack, is when poor blood flow to the brain results in cell death. There are two main types: ischemic due to lack of blood flow and hemorrhagic due to bleeding. They result in part of the brain not functioning properly. Symptoms may include an inability to move or feel on one side of the body, problems understanding or speaking, feeling like the world is spinning, or loss of one vision to one side among others. Symptoms usually but not always come on quickly. If symptoms last less than one or two hours it is known as a transient ischemic attack (TIA). Hemorrhage strokes may also be associated with a severe headache. The symptoms of a stroke can be permanent. Long term complications may include pneumonia or loss of bladder control.
The main risk factor for stroke is high blood pressure. Other risk factors include tobacco smoking, obesity, high blood cholesterol, diabetes, previous TIA, and atrial fibrillation among others. An ischemic stroke is typically caused by blockage of a blood vessel. A hemorrhagic stroke is caused by bleeding either directly into the brain or into the space surrounding the brain. Bleeding may occur due to a brain aneurysm. Diagnosis is typically with medical imaging such as a CT scan or MRI scan along with a physical exam. Other tests such as an electrocardiogram (ECG) and blood test are done to determine risk factors and rule out other possible causes. Low blood sugar may cause similar symptoms.