Cerebrovascular disease refers to a group of conditions that affect the blood vessels and blood supply to the brain and can lead to a stroke. It can be caused atherosclerosis, where plaque builds up in the arteries or aneurysms that burst.
A stroke occurs when a blood vessel in the brain is blocked or bursts. Without blood and the oxygen it carries, part of the brain starts to die and can’t work properly.
There are two types of stroke:
Brain damage can begin within minutes, so it’s important to recognize stroke symptoms. Quick treatment can help limit damage and increase the chance of recovery. If you have symptoms that seem like a stroke, even if they go away quickly, you may have had a transient ischemic attack (TIA), sometimes called a mini-stroke. A TIA might be a warning that a stroke could happen, so speaking to your health care practitioner and getting treatment may help prevent one.
Nine in ten Canadians have at least one risk factor for stroke and knowing your risk factors is the first step in preventing one. For example, you can reduce your risk by having regular medical checkups and focusing on treatable risk factors like:
It’s also important to be aware of non-treatable risk factors like age, gender, heredity, race, and history of prior stroke or TIA. If your risk of stroke is high, speaking to your health care practitioner about possible lifestyle changes and regular screening options can help lower your risk. Almost 80 percent of premature strokes can be prevented through healthy behaviours.
Recognizing these stroke symptoms helps determine when to call for medical help FAST:
For more information on stroke, visit the Heart and Stroke Foundation website.
American Heart Association. (2017) Risk Factors for Stroke. www.strokeassociation.org. Accessed February 15, 2018.
Healthwise Staff (2017) Stroke. www.MyHealth.Alberta.ca. Accessed February 13, 2018.
Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada. (2018) Stroke. www.heartandstroke.ca. Accessed February 15, 2018.
Public Health Agency of Canada. (2017) About stroke. Government of Canada. www.canada.ca. Accessed February 13, 2018.
Size, G., et al. (2016) Inside Ultrasound Vascular Reference Guide. Pasadena, California, Davies Publishing.