Stroke is a common cause of brain dysfunction caused by ischemia (lack of blood flow) or hemorrhage due to cerebrovascular disease. It is a medical emergency with one-fifth of the patients dying within one month of an acute attack and no less than half of the survivors being left with physical disabilities. It typically occurs within minutes and affects the functioning of a certain identifiable part of the brain. The patient may experience disturbed speech, weakness of one side of the body, confusion, and inability to perform complex movements.
Some risk factors of stroke are advancing age, male gender, family history, and a previous vascular event, such as a myocardial infarction. High blood pressure, smoking, uncontrolled diabetes, and excessive alcohol intake also increase the risk of stroke, but these factors can be modified. The diagnostic tool most commonly used to identify a stroke is a computed tomography (CT) scan. The gold standard treatment for acute ischemic stroke is intravenous injection of tissue plasminogen activator (TPA) within the first three hours. In case of hemorrhage, surgery may be needed to stop the bleeding.