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A cardiovascular accident can occur anywhere in the body, but when it happens in the brain it is called a cerebral vascular accident (CVA), or stroke. Some CVA’s are difficult to prevent, but most occur because of cardiovascular disease. Since cardiovascular disease is substantially linked to being overweight and out of shape, many strokes can be prevented by people taking better care of their health, maintaining a healthy weight, and staying physically fit.
About 1 million Americans experience some type of stroke every year. In 2006, Colorado had the lowest incidence of stroke (1.8%) and Alabama had the highest (4.1%). (11, 12) There are basically two types of strokes that can occur: ischemic or hemorrhagic. An ischemic stroke happens when a thrombus or embolus (usually a blood clot) blocks blood supply and causes tissue death. A hemorrhagic stroke can be caused from high blood pressure, drug use, trauma, or a blood disease and this bleeding in the brain can cause tissue death.
Being overweight or obese will significantly increase your risk of having a stroke. Diseases in this population that can cause a stroke include atherosclerosis (causes 2/3’s of strokes), diabetes type II, hypertension, hyperlipidemia, heart irregularities, and other cardiovascular diseases. Some symptoms of beginning to have a stroke include: One sided vision loss, slurred speech, an intense headache, and abrupt weakness on one side of the body. About a third of stroke victims die within a year, but many survive and are left with the after effects of their cerebral vascular accident. Every case is different from the other, and depends on the location of the brain damage.
RESULTS OF HAVING A STROKE
For survivors, the following after effects of having a stroke may or may not ever go away:
Hemiplegia: weakness or paralysis on one side of the body, often affecting both the arm and the leg
Agnosia: inability to recognize an object through the sensation of touch
Unilateral neglect: Significant decreased awareness of one side of your body, including awareness of the external environment on that side
Homonymous hemianopsia: loss of vision on one side of the visual field
Ataxia: significant loss of coordination of the arms or legs
Nystagmus: uncontrolled eye movements
Dysphagia: decreased ability or inability to swallow
Aphasia: decreased ability or inability to communicate and understand speech
Vertigo: sensation of the world spinning around you
Apraxia: although some automatic movement occurs, the person cannot consciously initiate movement
Deafness: decreased ability or inability to hear
Facial paralysis: may occur on one or both sides of the face
Spasticity: increased muscle tension, even when the muscle is not in use
Clonus: often occurs in the leg, it is a broken reflex that allows the joint to “bounce” several times when stretched
Flaccidity: significant decrease in tension, even though a muscle is at rest
Decreased attention span: inability to stay on task or to concentrate
Dementia: loss of memory, either long or short term
Synergy: automatic mass movements
Pain: often occurs in joints like the shoulder. Abnormal pain sensations can occur in the body when subjected to stimuli like loudness, lights, and touch
Skin ulcers: skin breakdown may occur due to immobility and spastic pressure
Incontinence: inability to control urination and excretion
Shoulder subluxation: if the muscles stabilizing the shoulder are affected, the shoulder joint may lax and come apart
Decreased consciousness: decreased level of awareness of your environment
Inability to Walk: a stroke victim may lose the ability to walk, due to many of the factors listed above
(Some information taken from 8, 12)