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.
Many Canadians have at least one risk factor for stroke. Knowing your risk factors is the first step in helping to prevent a stroke. 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 that can help lower your risk. For example, coronary CT angiography and vascular ultrasound are often used to monitor and/or diagnosis patients at risk of cerebrovascular disease and stroke. 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.