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WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW:
- An arteriovenous malformation (AVM) is an abnormal connection without capillaries (very small blood vessels) between arteries and veins. Normally, blood travels from the heart to the body through arteries, passes into capillaries, and then returns through veins. With AVM, the capillaries are absent and blood flows quickly from the arteries and pushes hard on the walls of the veins. This can damage or weaken the blood vessels, which may cause them to bulge and get twisted. AVMs can be found in many parts of the body, but those in the brain can cause very serious problems if not treated. Over time, your AVM may get larger, burst, and spill blood. An AVM is condition a person is born with, or it may happen after a forceful injury to the head. If an AVM in your brain spills blood, you may get a serious condition such as a bleeding (hemorrhagic) stroke.
- You may have no signs or symptoms of an AVM if it has not burst. You may have seizures (convulsions), headaches, or functional changes such as problems with walking or talking. If the AVM bursts, you may have trouble seeing, walking, swallowing, talking, thinking, understanding, or remembering things. Angiogram, computerized tomography (CT) scan, or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) may be used to diagnose your AVM. You may be given medicines to decrease swelling in the brain and prevent seizures. You may need treatment to destroy or remove the AVM, such as embolization, radiotherapy, or surgery. You may also need treatment for hemorrhagic stroke if your AVM has spilled blood. When AVM is diagnosed and treated early, your symptoms may be relieved and further problems prevented.
Blood pressure monitoring:
Your caregiver may want you to check your blood pressure at home. Ask your caregiver for more information about how to take a blood pressure.
You may feel safer if you use a 4 prong (pointed) cane or a walker when walking. To keep from falling, remove loose carpeting from the floor. Using chairs with side arms and hard cushions will make it easier to get up or out of a chair. Put grab bars on the walls beside toilets and inside showers and bathtubs. These will help you get up after using the toilet or after bathing. Grab bars will also help to keep you from falling in the shower. You may want to put a shower chair inside the shower.
Take your medicine as directed:
Call your primary healthcare provider if you think your medicine is not working as expected. Tell him if you are allergic to any medicine. Keep a current list of the medicines, vitamins, and herbs you take. Include the amounts, and when, how, and why you take them. Take the list or the pill bottles to follow-up visits. Carry your medicine list with you in case of an emergency. Throw away old medicine lists.
Ask for information about where and when to go for follow-up visits:
For continuing care, treatments, or home services, ask for more information.
Rehabilitation is also called rehab. This is a program to help you return to normal life as much as possible. Rehab helps you regain and relearn the skills of everyday living.
- Occupational therapy: Occupational therapy (OT) uses work, self-care, and other normal daily activities to help you function better in your daily life. OT helps you develop skills to improve your ability to bathe, dress, cook, eat, and drive. You may learn to use special tools to help you with your daily activities. You may also learn new ways to keep your home or workplace safe.
- Physical therapy: You may need to see a physical therapist to teach you special exercises. These exercises help improve movement and decrease pain. Physical therapy can also help improve strength and decrease your risk for loss of function.
CONTACT A CAREGIVER IF:
- Your blood pressure is higher then what your caregiver has told you it should be.
- You are having trouble with any of your therapy or exercises.
- You cannot make it to your next appointment.
- You have any questions or concerns about your illness, medicine, or care.
SEEK CARE IMMEDIATELY IF:
- You have chest pain that spreads to your arms, jaw, or back.
- You have trouble breathing.
- Stroke: You have one or more of the following signs or symptoms of a stroke:
- A very bad headache. This may feel like the worst headache of your life.
- Confusion and problems speaking or understanding things.
- Not able to see out of one or both of your eyes.
- Too dizzy to stand, trouble walking, or loss of balance.
- Weakness or numbness of face, arm, or leg, especially on one side of the body.
- F.A.S.T. test: Use this quick and easy-to-remember test to check for signs that someone is having a stroke:
- F = Face: Ask the person to smile. Drooping on one side of the mouth or face is a sign of a stroke.
- A = Arms: Ask the person to raise both arms. One arm that slowly comes back down or cannot be raised is a sign of a stroke.
- S = Speech: Ask the person to repeat a simple sentence that you say first. Speech that is slurred or strange sounding is a sign of a stroke.
- T = Time: If you see that the person has any of these signs, call 911 or seek care immediately for them.
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