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A stroke (also known as cerebrovascular accident or CVA) is a serious, life-threatening condition that occurs when the blood supply to an area of the brain is cut off and the part of the body that the blood-deprived brain cells control stops working. Stroke is the fifth leading cause of death in the United States and is a major cause of adult disability. According to reports from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), nearly 8, 00,000 people experience new or recurrent stroke each year. It is estimated that every 4 minutes, someone dies from this condition. However, it is possible to prevent or reduce the risk of more than 80 percent CVA through healthy lifestyle changes combined with medications.

National Stroke Awareness Month 2015

In order to increase public knowledge and emphasize the importance of stroke-related issues, May is observed as National Stroke Awareness Month in the United States. This month was officially designated as National Stroke Awareness Month on May 11, 1989 with President George. H.W Bush signing the Presidential Proclamation 5975. Since then, the National Stroke Association (NSA) has been celebrating this annual event to raise public awareness about stroke and to enhance the quality of life for all people coping with the sudden and long term effects of this serious condition.

The annual campaign sponsored by the NSA aims to help individuals “Save a Life” by educating them about the immediate symptoms, risk factors and preventive measures associated with CVA. The goal is to provide everyone with the essential tools and resources to help build more awareness about this debilitating condition through a series of events and activities.

The program places emphasis on making the public aware about “Acting FAST.” According to the NSA, about 80% of this disease can be treated or prevented if people act fast. F.A.S.T is an acronym introduced by the NSA for symptoms to check in a suspected stroke victim:

  • F – Face / Does the face droop on one side when the person smiles?
  • A – Arm / After raising both arms, does one of the arms drift downwards?
  • S – Speech /After repeating a simple phrase, does the person’s speech sound slurred or strange?
  • T – Time / If any or all of the above signs are observed, call 9-1-1 if in the US or 999 in the UK and ask for medical assistance.

The objective is to persuade people to learn the F.A.S.T signs and share them with as many people as possible. This will definitely help to save lives and reduce the risk of stroke.

Generally, cerebrovascular accident (CVA) occurs when the blood supply to the brain is interrupted or reduced, depriving your brain of oxygen and nutrients which can cause your brain cells to die. In addition, it may be caused by a blocked artery or leaking or bursting of a blood vessel.

CVA – Symptoms and Diagnosis

There are different signs and symptoms associated with this condition which include trouble with speaking and understanding, paralysis or numbness of the face, arm or leg, headache, problem with walking, trouble with seeing in one or both eyes and more. Several lifestyle factors such as obesity, physical inactivity, use of illicit drugs (like cocaine and methamphetamines), heavy or binge drinking habit, smoking or secondhand exposure to smoke can increase the risk of CVA. Medical conditions such as high blood pressure, diabetes, obstructive sleep apnea, cholesterol and cardiovascular disease can also increase the risk of the same.

Knowing the signs and symptoms of stroke is the initial step to ensuring that medical help is received immediately. It is estimated that for each minute a stroke goes untreated, the blood flow to the brain continues to be blocked and a person loses about 1.9 neurons. This could potentially affect one’s ability to speak, move, memorize and respond to different situations. Early diagnosis and timely recognition of symptoms help in better disease management.

Physicians play an important role in improving patients’ total health outcomes through early diagnosis, management and referrals. If not treated properly, this condition can sometimes cause temporary or permanent disabilities. This may depend on how long the brain lacks blood flow and which part was affected.

As part of the initial analysis, physicians evaluate the type of stroke and the areas of brain affected by the same. They perform different types of tests such as blood tests, computerized tomography (CT) scan, carotid ultrasound, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), cerebral angiogram and echocardiogram to identify the exact causes of this disease thereby preventing additional complications.

These tests and procedures must be carefully documented using the correct medical codes. The following ICD codes are used by physicians for medical billing purposes –

ICD-9-CM Codes

  • 430 Subarachnoid hemorrhage
  • 431 Intracerebral hemorrhage
  • 432 Other and unspecified intracranial hemorrhage
  • 433 Occlusion and stenosis of pre-cerebral arteries
  • 434 Occlusion of cerebral arteries
  • 435 Transient cerebral ischemia
  • 436 Acute, but ill-defined, cerebrovascular disease
  • 437 Other and ill-defined cerebrovascular disease
  • 438 Late effects of cerebrovascular disease

ICD-10-CM Codes

In ICD-10-CM, code I60 and its complete sub-categories offer more specific representation of the location or source of the hemorrhage –

  • I60 Nontraumatic subarachnoid hemorrhage
  • I61 Nontraumatic intracerebral hemorrhage
  • I62 Other and unspecified nontraumatic intracranial hemorrhage
  • I63 Cerebral infarction
  • I65 Occlusion and stenosis of precerebral arteries, not resulting in cerebral infarction
  • I66 Occlusion and stenosis of cerebral arteries, not resulting in cerebral infarction
  • I67 Other cerebrovascular diseases
  • I68 Cerebrovascular disorders in diseases classified elsewhere
  • I69 Sequelae of cerebrovascular disease

Join hands with the National Stroke Association (NSA) and help them create healthier communities.