A stroke, also known as cerebrovascular accident (CVA),[1] is an acute neurologic injury in which the blood supply to a part of the brain is interrupted. That is, stroke involves sudden loss of neuronal function due to disturbance in cerebral perfusion. This disturbance in perfusion is commonly arterial, but can be venous.

  1. The symptoms of stroke depend on the type of stroke and the area of the brain affected.
  2. If the area of the brain affected contains one of the three prominent Central nervous system pathways -- the spinothalamic tract, corticospinal tract, and dorsal column (medial lemniscus), symptoms may include:
  3. muscle weakness (hemiplegia)
  4. numbness
  5. reduction in sensory or vibratory sensation
  6. A stroke affecting the brainstem therefore can produce symptoms relating to deficits in these cranial nerves:
  7. altered smell, taste, hearing, or vision (total or partial)
  8. drooping of eyelid (ptosis) and weakness of ocular muscles
  9. decreased reflexes: gag, swallow, pupil reactivity to light
  10. decreased sensation and muscle weakness of the face
  11. balance problems and nystagmus
  12. altered breathing and heart rate
  13. weakness in sternocleidomastoid muscle (SCM) with inability to turn head to one side
  14. weakness in tongue (inability to protrude and/or move from side to side)
  15. If the cerebral cortex is involved, the CNS pathways can again be affected, but also can produce the following symptoms:
  16. aphasia (inability to speak or understand language from involvement of Broca's or Wernicke's area)
  17. apraxia (altered voluntary movements)
  18. visual field cut(involvement of occipital lobe)
  19. memory deficits (involvement of temporal lobe)
  20. hemineglect (involvement of parietal lobe)
  21. disorganized thinking, confusion, hypersexual gestures (with involvement of frontal lobe)
  22. If the cerebellum is involved, the patient may have the following:
  23. trouble walking
  24. altered movement coordination
  25. vertigo and or disequilibrium