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Burgeoning Number, Including Celebrities, Affected By Cerebrovascular Disease

by Tanya Thomas on July 26, 2008 at 5:23 PM
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 Burgeoning Number, Including Celebrities, Affected By Cerebrovascular Disease

Cerebrovascular disease is silently spreading around the world and the worst part, no one really knows about this silent killer. Research says that every year the number of people affected by cerebrovascular disease could fill one of the nation's largest sports stadiums, the Rose Bowl, 10 times over, with many celebrity ticket holders. This disease is widespread and celebrities are no exception. But, thankfully, when they are affected, it brings greater public awareness to this crucial health issue.

In an effort to further raise this awareness, the American Association of Neurological Surgeons (AANS) is focusing on cerebrovascular disease during Neurosurgery Outreach Month, a health awareness month observed annually in August. Neurosurgeons treat cerebrovascular disease through microsurgery, stereotactic surgery, and endovascular techniques.


Stroke is an abrupt interruption of constant blood flow to the brain that causes loss of neurological function. The interruption of blood flow can be caused by a blockage, leading to the more common ischemic stroke, or by bleeding in the brain, leading to the more deadly hemorrhagic stroke.

A cerebral aneurysm is an area where a blood vessel in the brain weakens, resulting in a bulging or ballooning out of part of the vessel wall. Usually, aneurysms develop at the point where a blood vessel branches, because the "fork" is structurally more vulnerable.

An arteriovenous malformation (AVM) is a tangle of abnormal and poorly formed blood vessels (arteries and veins), with a higher rate of bleeding than normal vessels. AVMs can irritate the surrounding brain and cause seizures or headaches. The most common and serious side effect of an AVM is a brain haemorrhage.

Celebrities affected by Cerebrovascular Disease in the Last Decade

  • Actor Robert Guillaume, stroke (1999)
  • Actress Sharon Stone, cerebral aneurysm (2001)
  • Game show host Bob Barker, stroke (2002)
  • Entertainer Dick Clark, stroke (2004)
  • Rocker Neil Young, cerebral aneurysm (2005)
  • New England Patriots player Teddy Bruschi, stroke (2005)
  • Senator Tim Johnston, arteriovenous malformation (2006)

Cerebrovascular Disease Statistics

  • Stroke is the third leading cause of death in the United States. Preliminary estimates indicate that 143,497 people in the United States died from cerebrovascular disease in 2005, a decrease of nearly 7 percent from 2004.
  • Of the more than 700,000 people affected every year, about 500,000 of these are first attacks, and 200,000 are recurrent.
  • Subarachnoid haemorrhage (SAH) affects approximately 30,000 Americans every year, with 90 percent of all cases caused by cerebral aneurysms that have ruptured, the latter of which is referred to as aneurysmal SAH.
  • AVMs affect an estimated 300,000 Americans.
While there aren't measures one can follow to help prevent cerebral aneurysms, AVMs, and other rare cerebrovascular conditions, the good news is that there are ways to help prevent stroke.

Stroke Prevention Tips

There are some stroke risk factors such as age, gender, heredity/race and a history of heart disease/stroke that are uncontrollable. However, there are controllable or treatable risk factors that may help prevent a stroke:

  • If you are a smoker, stop smoking
  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Maintain normal blood pressure and if it is high, seek treatment
  • Maintain normal blood cholesterol levels through a healthy diet and/or medication if necessary
  • If you have diabetes, control your blood pressure, blood sugar and cholesterol levels
  • If you have a family history of aneurysm or stroke, screening may be advisable
  • If you are diagnosed with carotid arteriosclerosis, seek treatment
  • If you are diagnosed with atrial fibrillation, seek treatment
  • If you have a history of transient ischemic attacks (TIAs), seek prompt diagnosis and treatment
  • Get 30 minutes of moderate exercise, five days a week. Check with your doctor first before starting any exercise program if you have any health problems or have been inactive.

Source: Newswise

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