Stroke is the common term used to describe a CVA or Cerebral Vascular Accident.

 A stroke is usually a blood clot or bleed in the brain leading to a variety of symptoms including weakness, paralysis, speech disorders and decrease of consciousness. Strokes most commonly occur in elderly people with a history of high blood pressure but may also occur in younger people.

 Certain cardiac abnormalities can also lead to a stroke, either by causing a fall in blood pressure to the brain or dislodging blood clots that end up in the brain.

Some people will experience a series of small strokes call Transient Ischaemic Attacks in the months preceding their CVA. Transient Ischaemic Attacks last from a few seconds to 12 hours and may cause dizziness, weakness and temporary paralysis.

 In some people the onset of TIAs is clearly related to standing up[after lying or sitting or occurs in relation to exertion. The signs of a stroke may either by obvious or quite subtle. Some of the signs that may be present include:

 * person complaining of a headache

 * altered level of consciousness

 * speech difficulty

 * loss of movement or sensation in one or more limbs 

 * general muscle weakness

 * blurred vision

 * confusion

 * loss of balance or staggering gait


The initial management of a person suffering a stroke is to provide reassurance. Make the person as comfortable as possible by supporting the head and shoulders although it is important to keep the person lying flat.

If the person has a decreased level of consciousness or is unconscious place them on their side with head tilted slightly back to ensure a clear airway. Call the Ambulance by dialling 000. Remember that to the alert person suffering a stroke,  can be a terrifying experience especially if speech is lost as they will have trouble communicating with you, so reassurance is most important.


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